The American Civil War
The American Civil War was an armed conflict that took place between 1861 and 1865 in the United States. Eleven states in the southern part sought to secede from the U.S. The states formed the Confederate States of America in pursuit of their independence; motivated by their urge to maintain slavery that was not acceptable in the Northern States, they attacked Fort Sumter prompting the Union/the Northern States to fight back. In the assault, confederates did not only aim at achieving independence but also at snatching territories from the Union. The fierce battle had profound effects in the United States, and because the Confederate lacked diplomatic recognition, the southern forces faced an inevitable defeat leading to their surrender in 1865, and this marked the end of the war. The struggle took place in the era of Abraham Lincoln who significantly fought against slavery to the displeasure of the southern states that were notorious for the vice. This essay seeks to examine the causes of the war, the mobilization as well as the impacts of the battle.
Causes of the Battle
Slavery was one of the root causes of the war as it brought divisions between the northern and the southern states. The latter had a significant investment in agriculture, and the primary source of labor in the plantations was slavery. The former, on the other hand, did not favor the continuation of slavery as they had abolished the vice in the late 18th and the early 19th centuries. When Abraham Lincoln rose to power, he sought to eradicate enslavement in all the states. Regarding the issue, a conflict emerged between the North and the South as the former tried to liberate slaves while the latter attempted to protect their economic interests that had a great foundation on free labor. The conflict surrounding the slavery issue, therefore, polarized the United States leading to tensions between the North and South hence resulting in the war.
Regional Differences between the North and the South
The Union/Northern States and the Southern States had evident differences in social, economic and political spheres. For instance, the North illegalized slavery and embraced the emancipation of the Blacks while the South wished to perpetuate slavery as a source of labor on the cotton plantations on the contrary. The former adopted urbanization and industrialization while the latter relied on agriculture that exploited the captives. There were religious differences between the North and the South regarding slavery. The southern states' urge of maintaining their conservative culture as well as championing their interests compelled them to forge a union amongst themselves/the Confederacy to protect their common interests. The idea of shared interests in the South, therefore, promoted the need to secede and thus the states mobilized themselves to attack Fort Sumter hence triggering the war.
Different Understanding/Perception Regarding the Federation of the United States
The United States is a federal nation consisting of numerous states under the federal government. The southern leaders and those from the North had different perceptions regarding the union of all states. The former argued that every state was free to leave the union and that the federal Constitution was an agreement between the states. The northern leaders, on the other hand, argued that the southern counterparts' perception was irrational since it contravened the will of the “Founding Fathers” who stated that the union was continuous and endless. The differing positions, therefore, led to tensions between the two regions hence triggering the war.
Organization of the War
The Northern States had troops consisting of the federal army, militia groups mobilized by the governors of the various states as well as the volunteers amongst the Black population. The Southern States were equally prepared as their governors also assembled their army comprising of militias but they did not include slaves since this would contravene their interests by emancipating them. The war began when the South attacked Fort Sumter prompting the North to fight back. The battle took place on land, at sea as well as along rivers. Initially, both sides had scores of volunteers but when the death toll began rising they escaped, and thus the camps ventured into forceful conscription. The Union/Northern States enlarged the U.S. Navy to 45,000 men and 671 war vessels. As the war progressed, the Confederacy was unable to maintain a regular army and thus it resulted in guerilla warfare. The military actions took place until 1865 when the Northern troops subdued the Southern/Confederate soldiers prompting the latter to surrender.
Impacts of the War
The war had adverse effects on the economy as it interfered with the flow of economic activities in various ways. The war made the federal government/the union to incur massive costs of expanding the army as well as the navy and this investment came at the expense of economic development. The Confederate also heavily invested on the militia and felt shocked from the disrupted cotton growth and trade as the U.S. Navy blockaded the coastal area of the southern states. The naval blockade disrupted the flow of traffic in the south and hence affected economic activities not only in the coast but also in the mainland. The United States as a whole also incurred the cost of reconstruction in the post-war era, as there was the need for restoring the destroyed infrastructure as well as the flow of economic activities.
War Captives/Prisoners of War
In the course of the war, there were scores of captives. Both camps experienced the problem as they had some of their own captured by the opponents and locked up in cells. However, the two blocks initially had an agreement that saw them exchanging the captives but later, the agreement became void when the Confederates refused to hand over the Black convicts. In the war, there was a total of 409,000 prisoners out of which 50,000 died while in custody. The figures, therefore, reveal how both camps experienced the problem of captured soldiers.
The Advancement of the Army
The Civil War era was also the period of industrial revolution that led to increased innovations. In the military field, there was a naval modernization by the Union as an effort to strengthen the army to deal with the southern insurgency. There was the acquisition of sophisticated weapons as well as battleships. The Confederacy also tried to improve its troops as it procured ships from Britain and re-engineered them into war ships. These innovations significantly shaped the military.
Deaths and Casualties
Like any other war, injuries and fatalities were evident in the American Civil War. The war left over 1 million people injured, about 760,000 military and 50,000 civilian deaths respectively. President Abraham Lincoln also died after a shot by a supporter of the Southern forces. The soldiers died in the course of confrontation as well as in the opponents' detention camps while the civilians died because of attacks. However, accidents and unknown causes also played a significant role in increasing the death toll. Therefore, the statistics mentioned above shows how the war contributed to a severe loss of lives.
Emancipation of the Blacks and Slaves
The war enabled the Blacks who were free as well as the fugitive slaves to join the Northern troops and hence expose themselves to a struggle for liberation. Thus, the struggle enabled them to confront the Confederate states that were keen on promoting slavery. The U.S. President Abraham Lincoln kept on persuading the states to free slaves gradually, or they would face the risk of a serious rebellion in the future. The war also depicted the Northern States' support for the Blacks and thus paving the way for the end of slavery.
The Southern Diplomatic Failure
The war proved to the Confederate States that they had no diplomatic recognition in their struggle for secession. The states had hoped that France and Britain would join them in the battle, but this was just a faded dream. They further sought mediation assistance from the two European countries, but the Union declared war against any country that would recognize the legitimacy of the Confederacy. After the failure, the Confederate states tried to punish France and Britain by interrupting the cotton supply, but the two found alternative sources hence frustrating the Confederacy. The events thus proved the latter to be a failure in the field of diplomacy.
The American Civil War was a battle between the Northern and the Southern states. The causes of struggling were slavery, regional differences between the North and the South and different perceptions regarding the union of all nation. The Southern part tried to secede from the United States, but the Northern States opposed the move hence triggering the war that started when the South attacked Fort Sumter. The battle took place on the land, at sea, and along rivers. The fighters included the U.S. Army, volunteers as well as the Free Blacks and the fugitive slaves. The war had various impacts such as economic costs, captives/prisoners of war, advancement of the army, deaths and injuries, emancipation of the Blacks as well as the Southern diplomatic failure. The war, therefore, came to give the United States a new definition as it led to the end of slavery as well as prevention of the secession. However, these developments came at a cost, since there were negative impacts as well.