42 Haunting Photos Of The American Civil War

The American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 9, 1865, also known by other names) was a civil war fought between the United States (the states remaining in the federal union — “the Union” or “the North”) and the Confederate States of America (southern states that voted to secede — “the Confederacy” or “the South”). The central cause of the war was the status of slavery, especially the expansion of slavery into territories acquired as a result of the Louisiana Purchase and the Mexican–American War. On the eve of the Civil War in 1860, four million of the 32 million Americans (nearly 13%) were enslaved black people, almost all in the South.

The practice of slavery in the United States was one of the key political issues of the 19th century; decades of political unrest over slavery led up to the war. Disunion came after Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 United States presidential election on an anti-slavery expansion platform. An initial seven Southern slave states declared their secession from the country to form the Confederacy. After Confederate forces seized numerous federal forts within territory they claimed, the attempted Crittenden Compromise failed and both sides prepared for war. Fighting broke out in April 1861 when the Confederate army began the Battle of Fort Sumter in South Carolina, just over a month after the first inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. The Confederacy grew to control at least a majority of territory in eleven states (out of the 34 U.S. states in February 1861), and asserted claims to two more. The states that remained loyal to the federal government were known as the Union. Large volunteer and conscription armies were raised; four years of intense combat, mostly in the South, ensued.

During 1861–1862 in the war’s Western Theater, the Union made significant permanent gains, though in the war’s Eastern Theater, the conflict was inconclusive. In September 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which made ending slavery a war goal. To the west, the Union destroyed the Confederate river navy by summer 1862, then much of its western armies, and seized New Orleans. The successful 1863 Union siege of Vicksburg split the Confederacy in two at the Mississippi River. In 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s incursion north ended at the Battle of Gettysburg. Western successes led to General Ulysses S. Grant’s command of all Union armies in 1864. Inflicting an ever-tightening naval blockade of Confederate ports, the Union marshaled resources and manpower to attack the Confederacy from all directions, leading to the fall of Atlanta in 1864 to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman and his march to the sea. The last significant battles raged around the ten-month Siege of Petersburg, gateway to the Confederate capitol of Richmond.

The war effectively ended on April 9, 1865, when Confederate General Lee surrendered to Union General Grant at the Battle of Appomattox Court House, after abandoning Petersburg and Richmond. Confederate generals throughout the Southern states followed suit, the last surrender on land occurring on June 23. By the end of the war, much of the South’s infrastructure was destroyed, especially its railroads. The Confederacy collapsed, slavery was abolished, and four million enslaved black people were freed. The war-torn nation then entered the Reconstruction era in a partially successful attempt to rebuild the country and grant civil rights to freed slaves.

The Civil War is one of the most studied and written about episodes in the history of the United States, and remains the subject of cultural and historiographical debate. Of particular interest is the persisting myth of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. The American Civil War was among the earliest to employ industrial warfare. Railroads, the telegraph, steamships, the ironclad warship, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively. In total the war left between 620,000 and 750,000 soldiers dead,[15] along with an undetermined number of civilian casualties. President Lincoln was assassinated just five days after Lee’s surrender. The Civil War remains the deadliest military conflict in American history, and accounted for more American military deaths than all other wars combined until the Vietnam War. The mobilization of civilian factories, mines, shipyards, banks, transportation, and food supplies all foreshadowed the impact of industrialization in World War I, World War II, and subsequent conflicts. (Wikipedia)

Teenaged soldiers — both black and white — of the Union Army.
General Lafayette’s Headquarters, 1862
Bodies on the battlefield at Antietam, Maryland in September 1862.
Lincoln stands on the battlefield at Antietam, Maryland with Allan Pinkerton (the famed military intelligence operative who essentially invented the Secret Service, left) and Major General John A. McClernand (right) on October 3, 1862.
The USS Cairo on the Mississippi River in 1862.
Artillery at Yorktown, Virginia, 1862.
Entrenched along the west bank of the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg, Virginia, these Union soldiers were about to take part in the pivotal Battle of Chancellorsville, beginning on April 30, 1863.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.
The CSS Atlanta on the James River after Union forces had captured the ironclad Confederate ship in June 1863.
African-Americans collect the bones of soldiers killed in battle at Cold Harbor, Virginia, June 1864.
Partially titled “A harvest of death,” this photo depicts just a few of the fallen soldiers at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania following the historic battle there in July 1863.
Three Confederate soldiers who were captured at Gettysburg, summer 1863.
Abraham Lincoln (indicated by red arrow) arrives at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863, not long before delivering his Gettysburg Address.
Crewmembers of the USS Wissahickon standing by the ship’s gun, 1863.
Union General Phil Sheridan.
Sheridan gave the photographer the hat he is wearing here, but workmen would later steal it from a trunk in the photography studio’s cellar.
Confederate dead at the Battle of Spotsylvania in Virginia, May 1864.
On June 18, 1864, a cannon shot took both arms of Alfred Stratton. He was just 19 years old. Overall, one in 13 Civil War soldiers became amputees.
Union soldiers from Company D, U.S. Engineer Battalion, pose during the siege in August 1864 in Petersburg, Virginia.
U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant in City Point, Virginia, August 1964.
Union soldier Francis E. Brownell, wearing a Zouave uniform, with a bayoneted musket. The Medal of Honor recipient has a black crape tied to his left arm in mourning for Col. E. E. Ellsworth.
U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant (center) and his staff pose in the summer of 1864 in City Point, Virginia.
Union officers and enlisted men stand around a 13-inch mortar, the “Dictator,” on the platform of a flatbed railroad car in October, 1864 near Petersburg, Virginia.
Union General William T. Sherman sits on a horse at Federal Fort No. 7 September-November, 1864 in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Ponder House stands shell-damaged in Atlanta, Georgia, September-November 1864.
African-American Union troops at Dutch Gap, Virginia in November 1864.
Union soldiers sit by the guns of a captured fort in 1864 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Union Colonel E. Olcott.
Soldiers sit in trenches near Petersburg, Virginia, 1864.
A Union wagon train enters Petersburg, Virginia in April, 1865.
The ruins of the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia in April 1865.
The ruins of Haxalls (or Gallego) Mills in Richmond, Virginia, April 1865.
Ruins stand in front of the Confederate Capitol, circa 1865 in Richmond, Virginia.
Confederate Major Gihl.
The body of a dead Confederate soldier lies in a trench at Fort Mahone on April 3, 1865 in Petersburg, Virginia.
The ruins of the State Arsenal and Richmond-Petersburg Railroad Bridge are seen in 1865 in Richmond, Virginia.
Soldiers wait outside the court house in Appomattox, Virginia as the higher-ups work out the official terms of surrender in April 1865.
Two Union soldiers in Union captain’s uniform and lieutenant’s uniform, holding foot officers’ swords, wearing frock coats, over-the-shoulder belt for sword attachment, and red sashes.
Taken sometime in 1884 or 1885, Jefferson Davis’s family is pictured here in Beauvoir, Mississippi.
Wilmer McLean and his family sit on the porch of his house, where Confederate General Robert E. Lee signed the terms of surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865 in Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
The funeral procession for U.S. President Abraham Lincoln slowly moves down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. on April 19, 1865, five days after he was shot by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth and ten days after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia effectively ended the war.
Body of young Confederate and grave of Michigan soldier at Antietam, 1862

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