civil war

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civil war,

in Roman history: see MariusMarius, Caius
, c.157 B.C.–86 B.C., Roman general. A plebeian, he became tribune (119 B.C.) and praetor (115 B.C.) and was seven times consul. He served under Scipio Africanus Minor at Numantia and under Quintus Metellus against Jugurtha.
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 and SullaSulla, Lucius Cornelius
, 138 B.C.–78 B.C., Roman general. At the height of his career he assumed the name Felix. He served under Marius in Africa and became consul in 88 B.C., when Mithradates VI of Pontus was overrunning Roman territory in the east.
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; PompeyPompey
(Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus) , 106 B.C.–48 B.C., Roman general, the rival of Julius Caesar. Sometimes called Pompey the Great, he was the son of Cnaeus Pompeius Strabo (consul in 89 B.C.), a commander of equivocal reputation.
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 and Julius CaesarCaesar, Julius
(Caius Julius Caesar), 100? B.C.–44 B.C., Roman statesman and general. Rise to Power

Although he was born into the Julian gens, one of the oldest patrician families in Rome, Caesar was always a member of the democratic or popular party.
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Civil War,

in U.S. history, conflict (1861–65) between the Northern states (the Union) and the Southern states that seceded from the Union and formed the ConfederacyConfederacy,
name commonly given to the Confederate States of America
(1861–65), the government established by the Southern states of the United States after their secession from the Union.
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. It is generally known in the South as the War between the States and is also called the War of the Rebellion (the official Union designation), the War of Secession, and the War for Southern Independence. The name Civil War, although much criticized as inexact, is most widely accepted.


The name Civil War is misleading because the war was not a class struggle, but a sectional combat having its roots in political, economic, social, and psychological elements so complex that historians still do not agree on its basic causes. It has been characterized, in the words of William H. Seward, as the "irrepressible conflict." In another judgment the Civil War was viewed as criminally stupid, an unnecessary bloodletting brought on by arrogant extremists and blundering politicians. Both views accept the fact that in 1861 there existed a situation that, rightly or wrongly, had come to be regarded as insoluble by peaceful means.

In the days of the American Revolution and of the adoption of the Constitution, differences between North and South were dwarfed by their common interest in establishing a new nation. But sectionalism steadily grew stronger. During the 19th cent. the South remained almost completely agricultural, with an economy and a social order largely founded on slavery and the plantation system. These mutually dependent institutions produced the staples, especially cotton, from which the South derived its wealth. The North had its own great agricultural resources, was always more advanced commercially, and was also expanding industrially.

Hostility between the two sections grew perceptibly after 1820, the year of the Missouri CompromiseMissouri Compromise,
1820–21, measures passed by the U.S. Congress to end the first of a series of crises concerning the extension of slavery.

By 1818, Missouri Territory had gained sufficient population to warrant its admission into the Union as a state.
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, which was intended as a permanent solution to the issue in which that hostility was most clearly expressed—the question of the extension or prohibition of slavery in the federal territories of the West. Difficulties over the tariff (which led John C. CalhounCalhoun, John Caldwell
, 1782–1850, American statesman and political philosopher, b. near Abbeville, S.C., grad. Yale, 1804. He was an intellectual giant of political life in his day. Early Career

Calhoun studied law under Tapping Reeve at Litchfield, Conn.
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 and South Carolina to nullificationnullification,
in U.S. history, a doctrine expounded by the advocates of extreme states' rights. It held that states have the right to declare null and void any federal law that they deem unconstitutional.
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 and to an extreme states' rightsstates' rights,
in U.S. history, doctrine based on the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
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 stand) and troubles over internal improvements were also involved, but the territorial issue nearly always loomed largest. In the North moral indignation increased with the rise of the abolitionistsabolitionists,
in U.S. history, particularly in the three decades before the Civil War, members of the movement that agitated for the compulsory emancipation of the slaves.
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 in the 1830s. Since slavery was unadaptable to much of the territorial lands, which eventually would be admitted as free states, the South became more anxious about maintaining its position as an equal in the Union. Southerners thus strongly supported the annexation of Texas (certain to be a slave state) and the Mexican War and even agitated for the annexation of Cuba.

The Compromise of 1850Compromise of 1850.
The annexation of Texas to the United States and the gain of new territory by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo at the close of the Mexican War (1848) aggravated the hostility between North and South concerning the question of the extension of slavery into the
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 marked the end of the period that might be called the era of compromise. The deaths in 1852 of Henry ClayClay, Henry,
1777–1852, American statesman, b. Hanover co., Va. Early Career

His father died when he was four years old, and Clay's formal schooling was limited to three years.
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 and Daniel WebsterWebster, Daniel,
1782–1852, American statesman, lawyer, and orator, b. Salisbury (now in Franklin), N.H. Early Career

He graduated (1801) from Dartmouth College, studied law, and, after an interval as a schoolmaster, was admitted (1805) to the bar.
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 left no leader of national stature, but only sectional spokesmen, such as W. H. SewardSeward, William Henry,
1801–72, American statesman, b. Florida, Orange co., N.Y. Early Career

A graduate (1820) of Union College, he was admitted to the bar in 1822 and established himself as a lawyer in Auburn, N.Y., which he made his lifelong home.
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, Charles SumnerSumner, Charles,
1811–74, U.S. senator from Massachusetts (1851–74), b. Boston. He attended (1831–33) and was later a lecturer at Harvard law school, was admitted (1834) to the bar, and practiced in Boston. He spent the years 1837 to 1840 in Europe.
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, and Salmon P. ChaseChase, Salmon Portland,
1808–73, American public official and jurist, 6th chief justice of the United States (1864–73), b. Cornish, N.H. Admitted to the bar in 1829, he defended runaway blacks so often that he became known as "attorney general for fugitive slaves.
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 in the North and Jefferson DavisDavis, Jefferson,
1808–89, American statesman, President of the Southern Confederacy, b. Fairview, near Elkton, Ky. His birthday was June 3. Early Life

Davis's parents moved to Mississippi when he was a boy.
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 and Robert ToombsToombs, Robert,
1810–85, American statesman, Confederate leader, b. Wilkes co., Ga. A successful lawyer in Georgia, he entered politics as a Whig, serving in the state legislature and in Congress (1845–53).
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 in the South. With the Kansas-Nebraska ActKansas-Nebraska Act,
bill that became law on May 30, 1854, by which the U.S. Congress established the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. By 1854 the organization of the vast Platte and Kansas river countries W of Iowa and Missouri was overdue.
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 (1854) and the consequent struggle over "bleeding" Kansas the factions first resorted to shooting. The South was ever alert to protect its "peculiar institution," even though many Southerners recognized slavery as an anachronism in a supposedly enlightened age. Passions aroused by arguments over the fugitive slave lawsfugitive slave laws,
in U.S. history, the federal acts of 1793 and 1850 providing for the return between states of escaped black slaves. Similar laws existing in both North and South in colonial days applied also to white indentured servants and to Native American slaves.
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 (which culminated in the Dred Scott CaseDred Scott Case,
argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1856–57. It involved the then bitterly contested issue of the status of slavery in the federal territories. In 1834, Dred Scott, a black slave, personal servant to Dr. John Emerson, a U.S.
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) and over slavery in general were further excited by the activities of the Northern abolitionist John BrownBrown, John,
1800–1859, American abolitionist, b. Torrington, Conn. He spent his boyhood in Ohio. Before he became prominent in the 1850s, his life had been a succession of business failures in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York.
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 and by the vigorous proslavery utterances of William L. YanceyYancey, William Lowndes,
1814–63, American leader of secession, b. Warren co., Ga. Admitted (1834) to the bar in Greenville, S.C., he soon moved to Alabama. There he became an outstanding lawyer, was elected to the state house of representatives (1841) and the state senate
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, one of the leading Southern fire-eatersfire-eaters,
in U.S. history, term applied by Northerners to proslavery extremists in the South in the two decades before the Civil War. Edmund Ruffin, Robert B. Rhett, and William L. Yancey were the most notable of the group.
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The Election of 1860

The "wedges of separation" caused by slavery split large Protestant sects into Northern and Southern branches and dissolved the Whig partyWhig party,
one of the two major political parties of the United States in the second quarter of the 19th cent. Origins

As a party it did not exist before 1834, but its nucleus was formed in 1824 when the adherents of John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay joined forces
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. Most Southern Whigs joined the Democratic partyDemocratic party,
American political party; the oldest continuous political party in the United States. Origins in Jeffersonian Democracy

When political alignments first emerged in George Washington's administration, opposing factions were led by Alexander Hamilton
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, one of the few remaining, if shaky, nationwide institutions. The new Republican partyRepublican party,
American political party. Origins and Early Years

The name was first used by Thomas Jefferson's party, later called the Democratic Republican party or, simply, the Democratic party.
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, heir to the Free-Soil partyFree-Soil party,
in U.S. history, political party that came into existence in 1847–48 chiefly because of rising opposition to the extension of slavery into any of the territories newly acquired from Mexico.
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 and to the Liberty partyLiberty party,
in U.S. history, an antislavery political organization founded in 1840. It was formed by those abolitionists, under the leadership of James G. Birney and Gerrit Smith, who repudiated William Lloyd Garrison's nonpolitical stand.
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, was a strictly Northern phenomenon. The crucial point was reached in the presidential election of 1860, in which the Republican candidate, Abraham LincolnLincoln, Abraham
, 1809–65, 16th President of the United States (1861–65). Early Life

Born on Feb. 12, 1809, in a log cabin in backwoods Hardin co., Ky. (now Larue co.), he grew up on newly broken pioneer farms of the frontier.
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, defeated three opponents—Stephen A. DouglasDouglas, Stephen Arnold,
1813–61, American statesman, b. Brandon, Vt. Senatorial Career

He was admitted to the bar at Jacksonville, Ill., in 1834. After holding various state and local offices he became a U.S.
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 (Northern Democrat), John C. BreckinridgeBreckinridge, John Cabell,
1821–75, Vice President of the United States (1857–61) and Confederate general, b. Lexington, Ky. A lawyer, Breckinridge served in the Kentucky legislature (1849–51) and in the House of Representatives (1851–55).
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 (Southern Democrat), and John BellBell, John,
1797–1869, American statesman, b. near Nashville, Tenn. A leading member of the Nashville bar, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1827–41), was speaker in 1834, and for a few weeks in 1841 was Secretary of War under President William Henry
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 of the Constitutional Union partyConstitutional Union party,
in U.S. history, formed when the conflict between North and South broke down the older parties. The Constitutional Union group, composed of former Whigs and remnants of the Know-Nothings and other groups in the South, was organized just before the
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Lincoln's victory was the signal for the secessionsecession,
in political science, formal withdrawal from an association by a group discontented with the actions or decisions of that association. The term is generally used to refer to withdrawal from a political entity; such withdrawal usually occurs when a territory or state
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 of South Carolina (Dec. 20, 1860), and that state was followed out of the Union by six other states—Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. Immediately the question of federal property in these states became important, especially the forts in the harbor of Charleston, S.C. (see Fort SumterFort Sumter,
fortification, built 1829–60, on a shoal at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, S.C., and named for Gen. Thomas Sumter; scene of the opening engagement of the Civil War. Upon passing the Ordinance of Secession (Dec.
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). The outgoing President, James BuchananBuchanan, James,
1791–1868, 15th President of the United States (1857–61), b. near Mercersburg, Pa., grad. Dickinson College, 1809. Early Career

Buchanan studied law at Lancaster, Pa.
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, a Northern Democrat who was either truckling to the Southern, proslavery wing of his party or sincerely attempting to avert war, pursued a vacillating course. At any rate the question of the forts was still unsettled when Lincoln was inaugurated, and meanwhile there had been several futile efforts to reunite the sections, notably the Crittenden CompromiseCrittenden Compromise,
in U.S. history, unsuccessful last-minute effort to avert the Civil War. It was proposed in Congress as a constitutional amendment in Dec., 1860, by Sen. John J. Crittenden of Kentucky with support from the National Union party.
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 offered by Sen. J. J. Crittenden. Lincoln resolved to hold Sumter. The new Confederate government under President Jefferson Davis and South Carolina were equally determined to oust the Federals.

Sumter to Gettysburg

When, on Apr. 12, 1861, the Confederate commander P. G. T. BeauregardBeauregard, Pierre Gustave Toutant
, 1818–93, Confederate general, b. St. Bernard parish, La., grad. West Point, 1838. As engineer on the staff of Winfield Scott in the Mexican War, he figured prominently in the taking of Mexico City.
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, acting on instructions, ordered the firing on Fort Sumter, hostilities officially began. Lincoln immediately called for troops to be used against the seven seceding states, which were soon joined by Arkansas, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee, completing the 11-state Confederacy. In the first important military campaign of the war untrained Union troops under Irvin McDowellMcDowell, Irvin,
1818–85, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Columbus, Ohio. He taught at West Point (1841–45) and was made captain for his service in the Mexican War.
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, advancing on Richmond, now the Confederate capital, were routed by equally inexperienced Confederate soldiers led by Beauregard and Joseph E. JohnstonJohnston, Joseph Eggleston,
1807–91, Confederate general, b. Prince Edward co., Va., grad. West Point, 1829. He served against the Seminole in Florida and with distinction under Winfield Scott in the Mexican War.
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 in the first battle of Bull RunBull Run,
small stream, NE Va., c.30 mi (50 km) SW of Washington, D.C. Two important battles of the Civil War were fought there: the first on July 21, 1861, and the second Aug. 29–30, 1862. Both battlefields are included in Manassas National Battlefield Park (est. 1940).
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 (July 21, 1861). This fiasco led Lincoln to bring up George B. McClellanMcClellan, George Brinton,
1826–85, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Philadelphia. After graduating (1846) from West Point, he served with distinction in the Mexican War and later worked on various engineering projects, notably on the survey (1853–54) for
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 (1826–85), fresh from his successes in W Virginia (admitted as the new state of West VirginiaWest Virginia,
E central state of the United States. It is bordered by Pennsylvania and Maryland (N, NE), Virginia (E and S), Kentucky (W) and, across the Ohio River, Ohio (NW). Facts and Figures

Area, 24,181 sq mi (62,629 sq km). Pop.
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 in 1863).

After the retirement of Winfield ScottScott, Winfield,
1786–1866, American general, b. near Petersburg, Va. Military Career

He briefly attended the College of William and Mary, studied law at Petersburg, and joined the military.
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 in Nov., 1861, McClellan was for a few months the chief Northern commander. The able organizer of the Army of the Potomac, he nevertheless failed in the Peninsular campaignPeninsular campaign,
in the American Civil War, the unsuccessful Union attempt (Apr.–July, 1862) to capture Richmond, Va., by way of the peninsula between the York and James rivers. The Plan

Early in 1862, Gen. George B.
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 (Apr.–July, 1862), in which Robert E. LeeLee, Robert Edward,
1807–70, general in chief of the Confederate armies in the American Civil War, b. Jan. 19, 1807, at Stratford, Westmoreland co., Va.; son of Henry ("Light-Horse Harry") Lee.
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 succeeded the wounded Johnston as commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Lee planned the diversion in the Shenandoah Valley, which, brilliantly executed by Thomas J. (Stonewall) JacksonJackson, Stonewall
(Thomas Jonathan Jackson), 1824–63, Confederate general, b. Clarksburg, Va. (now W.Va.), grad. West Point, 1846. Like a Stone Wall
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, worked perfectly. Next to Lee himself Jackson, with his famous "foot cavalry," was the South's greatest general.

Lee then went on to save Richmond in the Seven Days battlesSeven Days battles,
in the American Civil War, the week-long Confederate counter-offensive (June 26–July 2, 1862) near Richmond, Va., that ended the Peninsular campaign. After the battle of Fair Oaks the Union general George B.
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 (June 26–July 2) and was victorious in the second battle of Bull Run (Aug. 29–30), thoroughly trouncing John PopePope, John,
1822–92, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Louisville, Ky. He fought with distinction at Monterrey and Buena Vista in the Mexican War and later served with the topographical engineers in the West.
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. However, he also failed in his first invasion of enemy territory. In September, McClellan, whom Lincoln had restored to command of the defenses of Washington, checked Lee in Maryland (see Antietam campaignAntietam campaign
, Sept., 1862, of the Civil War. After the second battle of Bull Run, Gen. Robert E. Lee crossed the Potomac to invade Maryland and Pennsylvania. At Frederick, Md., he divided (Sept.
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). When McClellan failed to attack the Confederates as they retreated, Lincoln removed him again, this time permanently.

Two subsequent Union advances on Richmond, the first led by Ambrose E. BurnsideBurnside, Ambrose Everett,
1824–81, Union general in the U.S. Civil War, b. Liberty, Ind. He saw brief service in the Mexican War and remained in the army until 1853, when he entered business in Rhode Island.
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 (see Fredericksburg, battle ofFredericksburg, battle of,
in the Civil War, fought Dec. 13, 1862, at Fredericksburg, Va. In Nov., 1862, the Union general Ambrose Burnside moved his three "grand divisions" under W. B. Franklin, E. V.
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) and the second by Joseph HookerHooker, Joseph,
1814–79, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Hadley, Mass. After fighting the Seminole and serving in the Mexican War, Hooker resigned from the army in 1853 and was for several years a farmer in California.
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 (see Chancellorsville, battle ofChancellorsville, battle of,
May 2–4, 1863, in the American Civil War. Late in Apr., 1863, Joseph Hooker, commanding the Union Army of the Potomac, moved against Robert E.
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), ended in resounding defeats (Dec. 13, 1862, and May 2–4, 1863). Although Lee lost Jackson at Chancellorsville, the victory prompted him to try another invasion of the North. With his lieutenants Richard S. EwellEwell, Richard Stoddert,
1817–72, Confederate general, b. Georgetown, D.C., grad. West Point, 1840. Ewell rose rapidly in the Confederate army, becoming a major general by Oct., 1861. In 1862 he fought under T. J.
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, James LongstreetLongstreet, James,
1821–1904, Confederate general in the American Civil War, b. Edgefield District, S.C. He graduated (1842) from West Point and served in the Mexican War, reaching the rank of major. At the outbreak of the Civil War he resigned from the U.S.
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, A. P. HillHill, A. P.
(Ambrose Powell Hill), 1825–65, Confederate general in the American Civil War, b. Culpeper, Va. He served briefly in the Mexican War and had a varied army career until he resigned in Mar., 1861, to support the Confederacy.
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, and J. E. B. (Jeb) StuartStuart, James Ewell Brown
(Jeb Stuart), 1833–64, Confederate cavalry commander in the American Civil War, b. Patrick co., Va. Most of his U.S. army service was with the 1st Cavalry in Kansas.
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, he moved via the Shenandoah Valley into S Pennsylvania. There the Army of the Potomac, under still another new chief, George G. MeadeMeade, George Gordon,
1815–72, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Cádiz, Spain. Graduated from West Point in 1835, he resigned from the army the next year and became a civil engineer. In 1842, Meade reentered the army in the corps of topographical engineers.
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, rallied to stop him again in the greatest battle (July 1–3, 1863) of the war (see Gettysburg campaignGettysburg campaign,
June–July, 1863, series of decisive battles of the U.S. Civil War. The Road to Gettysburg

After his victory in the battle of Chancellorsville, Confederate general Robert E. Lee undertook a second invasion of the North.
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Naval Engagements

With the vastly superior sea power built up by Secretary of the Navy Gideon WellesWelles, Gideon
, 1802–78, American statesman, b. Glastonbury, Conn. He was (1826–36) editor and part owner of the Hartford Times, one of the first New England papers to support Andrew Jackson.
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, the Union established a blockade of the Southern coast, which, though by no means completely effective, nevertheless limited the South's foreign trade to the uncertain prospects of blockade-running. In cooperation with the army the Union navy also attacked along the coasts. The forts guarding New Orleans, the largest Confederate port, fell (Apr. 28, 1862) to a fleet under David G. FarragutFarragut, David Glasgow
, 1801–70, American admiral, b. near Knoxville, Tenn. Appointed a midshipman in 1810, he first served on the frigate Essex, commanded by David Porter, his self-appointed guardian, and participated in that ship's famous cruise in the Pacific
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, and the city was occupied by troops commanded by Benjamin F. ButlerButler, Benjamin Franklin,
1818–93, American politician and Union general in the Civil War, b. Deerfield, N.H. He moved to Lowell, Mass., as a youth and later practiced law there and in Boston.
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 (1818–93). The introduction of the ironclad warship (see Monitor and MerrimackMonitor and Merrimack,
two American warships that fought the first engagement between ironclad ships. When, at the beginning of the Civil War, the Union forces abandoned the Norfolk Navy Yard at Portsmouth, Va., they scuttled the powerful steam frigate Merrimack.
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) had revolutionized naval warfare, to the ultimate advantage of the industrial North. On the other hand, Confederate cruisersConfederate cruisers,
in U.S. history, warships constituting the South's seagoing navy. At the outbreak of the Civil War the United States ranked next to Great Britain in merchant marine.
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, built or bought in England (see Alabama claimsAlabama claims,
claims made by the U.S. government against Great Britain for the damage inflicted on Northern merchant ships during the American Civil War by the Alabama
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) and captained by men such as Raphael SemmesSemmes, Raphael
, 1809–77, American naval officer, b. Charles co., Md. He took part in the Mexican War, practiced law at Mobile, Ala., and was in the Lighthouse Service from 1856 to Feb., 1861, when he resigned his commission as commander.
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, destroyed or chased from the seas much of the U.S. merchant marine.

The War in the West

That the "war was won in the West" has become axiomatic. There the rivers, conveniently flowing either north (the Cumberland and the Tennessee) or south (the Mississippi), invited Union penetration, as they did not in Virginia. In Feb., 1862, the Union gunboats of Andrew H. FooteFoote, Andrew Hull
, 1806–63, American naval officer, b. New Haven, Conn.; son of Samuel Augustus Foot. He became a midshipman in 1822. As executive officer of the Cumberland (1843–45), Foote made her the first temperance ship of the navy.
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 forced the Confederates to retire from their post Fort HenryFort Henry,
Confederate fortification on the Tennessee River, S of the Ky.-Tenn. line; site of the first major Union victory of the Civil War (Feb. 6, 1862). The fort was attacked and reduced by Union gunboats commanded by Commodore Andrew Foote. Confederate commander Gen.
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 on the Tennessee to their stronghold on the Cumberland, Fort DonelsonFort Donelson
, Confederate fortification in the Civil War, on the Cumberland River at Dover, Tenn., commanding the river approach to Nashville, Tenn. After capturing Fort Henry, on the Tennessee River (Feb. 6, 1862), General Ulysses S. Grant, on Feb.
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. There, on Feb. 16, 1862, Grant, commanding the Army of the Tennessee, won the first great Union victory of the war, and Nashville promptly fell without a struggle.

Farther down the Tennessee, Grant was lucky to escape defeat in a bloody contest (Apr. 6–7) with Albert S. JohnstonJohnston, Albert Sidney,
1803–62, Confederate general, b. Washington, Ky. After serving in the Black Hawk War, he resigned (1834) from the U.S. army and went to Texas where he enlisted (1835) in the revolutionary army.
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 and Beauregard (see Shiloh, battle ofShiloh, battle of,
Apr. 6–7, 1862, one of the great battles of the American Civil War. The battle took its name from Shiloh Church, a meetinghouse c.3 mi (5 km) SSW of Pittsburg Landing, which was a community in Hardin co., Tenn., 9 mi (14.
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). Minor Union successes at Iuka (Sept. 19) and CorinthCorinth,
city (1990 pop. 11,820), seat of Alcorn co., extreme NE Miss., near the Tenn. line, in a livestock and farm area; founded c.1855. Manufactures include construction materials, machinery, furniture, apparel, transportation equipment, and prepared foods.
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 (Oct. 3–4) followed, while the counterinvasion by the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Braxton BraggBragg, Braxton,
1817–76, Confederate general in the U.S. Civil War, b. Warrenton, N.C. A graduate of West Point, he fought the Seminole and in the Mexican War was promoted to lieutenant colonel for distinguished service at Buena Vista.
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 was stopped by Don Carlos BuellBuell, Don Carlos,
1818–98, Union general in the Civil War, b. near Marietta, Ohio, grad. West Point, 1841. Buell was appointed brigadier general of volunteers in the Civil War (May, 1861), helped organize the Army of the Potomac, and took command of the Dept. of Ohio (Nov.
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 at Perryville, Ky. (Oct. 8, 1862). William S. RosecransRosecrans, William Starke
, 1819–98, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Kingston, Ohio. He served in the army from 1842 to 1854 and in Apr., 1861, rejoined as a volunteer. He became aide-de-camp to Gen. George B.
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, Buell's successor, then stalked Bragg through Tennessee, fought him to a standoff at MurfreesboroMurfreesboro
, city (1990 pop. 44,922), seat of Rutherford co., central Tenn., on Stones River; inc. 1817. It is the processing center of a dairy, livestock, and farm area. Manufactures include appliance motors, packaged foods, boats, and outdoor furniture.
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 (Dec. 21, 1862–Jan. 2, 1863), and finally, by outmaneuvering him, forced the Confederate general to withdraw S of Chattanooga.

Union gunboats had cleared the upper Mississippi (see Island No. 10Island No. 10,
former island in the Mississippi River, between NW Tenn. and SE Mo.; site of an important western campaign of the Civil War. With the advance of Union Gen. U. S. Grant up the Tennessee River, all Confederate positions, except New Madrid and Island No.
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; Fort PillowFort Pillow,
fortification on the Mississippi River, N of Memphis, Tenn.; built by Confederate Gen. Gideon Pillow in 1862. Evacuated by the Confederates after the fall of Island No. 10 to the north, the fort was occupied by Union troops on June 6, 1862. Confederate Gen.
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), leading to the fall of Memphis on June 6, 1862. Grant's Vicksburg campaignVicksburg campaign,
in the American Civil War, the fighting (Nov., 1862–July, 1863) for control of the Mississippi River. The Union wanted such control in order to split the Confederacy and to restore free commerce to the politically important Northwest.
..... Click the link for more information.
, at first stalled by the raids of Confederate cavalrymen Nathan B. ForrestForrest, Nathan Bedford,
1821–77, Confederate general, b. Bedford co., Tenn. (his birthplace is now in Marshall co.). At the beginning of the Civil War, Forrest, a wealthy citizen of Memphis, organized a cavalry force, which he led at Fort Donelson (Feb.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and Earl Van Dorn, was pressed to a victorious end in a brilliant movement in which the navy, represented by David D. PorterPorter, David Dixon,
1813–91, American admiral, b. Chester, Pa.; son of David Porter. He served under his father in the Mexican navy before he was appointed (1829) midshipman in the U.S. navy. He held his first command, the Spitfire, in the Mexican War.
..... Click the link for more information.
, also had a hand. The Union now controlled the whole Mississippi, and the trans-Mississippi West was severed from the rest of the Confederacy. The fighting in that area (see Pea RidgePea Ridge,
chain of hills, NW Ark., where the Civil War battle of Pea Ridge (or Elkhorn Tavern) was fought Mar. 6–8, 1862. Earl Van Dorn, leading a large Confederate command, which included Sterling Price's retreating Missouri forces and Ben McCulloch's army, attacked the
..... Click the link for more information.
; Arkansas PostArkansas Post
, community on the Arkansas River, SE Ark. Founded by the French in 1686 as a trading post, it is the oldest white settlement in the state; it became the capital of the Arkansas territory in 1819.
..... Click the link for more information.
) had held Missouri for the Union and led to the partial conquest of Arkansas, but after the fall of Vicksburg, the war there, with the exception of the unsuccessful Union Red River expedition of Nathaniel P. BanksBanks, Nathaniel Prentiss,
1816–94, American politician and Union general in the Civil War, b. Waltham, Mass. After serving in the Massachusetts legislature (1849–53), Banks entered Congress as a Democrat, was returned in 1855 as a Know-Nothing and became speaker of
..... Click the link for more information.
 and a last desperate Confederate raid into Missouri by Sterling PricePrice, Sterling,
1809–67, Confederate general in the American Civil War, b. Prince Edward co., Va. After moving to Missouri, he practiced law and entered politics. He served in Congress (1844–46), resigning to lead a Missouri regiment in the Mexican War.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (both in 1864), was largely confined to guerrilla activity.

The Emancipation Proclamation

Britain never formally recognized the Confederacy (neither did France) and maintained peaceful relations with the Union despite the provocation late in 1861 of the Trent AffairTrent Affair,
incident in the diplomatic relations between the United States and Great Britain, which occurred during the American Civil War. On Nov. 8, 1861, the British mail packet Trent, carrying James M.
..... Click the link for more information.
, which was adroitly handled by Secretary of State Seward. Charles Francis AdamsAdams, Charles Francis,
1807–86, American public official, minister to Great Britain (1861–68), b. Boston; son of John Quincy Adams. After a boyhood spent in various European capitals, he was graduated (1825) from Harvard and studied law under Daniel Webster.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (1807–86) at London and John BigelowBigelow, John
, 1817–1911, American editor, author, and diplomat, b. Malden, N.Y. In 1838 he was admitted to the New York bar. From 1848 to 1861 he shared with William Cullen Bryant the ownership and editing of the New York Evening Post.
..... Click the link for more information.
 at Paris were able diplomats, but probably more important in winning popular support for the Union in England and France was the Emancipation ProclamationEmancipation Proclamation,
in U.S. history, the executive order abolishing slavery in the Confederate States of America. Desire for Such a Proclamation

In the early part of the Civil War, President Lincoln refrained from issuing an edict freeing the slaves despite
..... Click the link for more information.
, which Lincoln issued after Antietam.

This act appeased for a time the anti-Lincoln radical Republicans in Congress, among them Benjamin F. WadeWade, Benjamin Franklin,
1800–1878, U.S. senator from Ohio (1851–69), b. near Springfield, Mass. He moved (1821) to Ohio and studied law. He was successively prosecuting attorney of Ashtabula co.
..... Click the link for more information.
, Zachariah ChandlerChandler, Zachariah,
1813–79, U.S. Senator from Michigan (1857–75, 1879) and Secretary of the Interior (1875–77), b. Bedford, N.H. He moved to Detroit in 1833 and through merchandising, land speculation, and banking became a millionaire.
..... Click the link for more information.
, Thaddeus StevensStevens, Thaddeus,
1792–1868, U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania (1849–53, 1859–68), b. Danville, Vt. He taught in an academy at York, Pa., studied law, and was admitted to the bar in Maryland.
..... Click the link for more information.
, and Henry W. DavisDavis, Henry Winter,
1817–65, American political leader, b. Annapolis, Md. He was elected (1854) to the House of Representatives on the Know-Nothing ticket and was twice reelected (1856, 1858) with the aid of the Republican party.
..... Click the link for more information.
, with whom Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase and Secretary of War Edwin M. StantonStanton, Edwin McMasters,
1814–69, American statesman, b. Steubenville, Ohio. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1836 and began to practice law in Cadiz. As his reputation grew, he moved first to Steubenville (1839), then to Pittsburgh (1847), and finally to Washington, D.
..... Click the link for more information.
 were allied. Not all Unionists were abolitionists, however, and the Emancipation Proclamation was not applied to the border slave states: Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri had all remained loyal. For Lincoln and kindred moderates, such as Postmaster General Montgomery BlairBlair, Montgomery,
1813–83, U.S. Postmaster General (1861–64), b. Franklin co., Ky., son of Francis P. Blair (1791–1876). He resigned from the army in 1836 after serving against the Seminole and settled in St.
..... Click the link for more information.
, the restoration of the Union, not the abolition of slavery, remained the principal objective of the war.

Turning Point

The Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg in July, 1863, marked a definite turning point in the war. Both sides now had seasoned, equally valiant soldiers, and in Lee and Ulysses S. GrantGrant, Ulysses Simpson,
1822–85, commander in chief of the Union army in the Civil War and 18th President (1869–77) of the United States, b. Point Pleasant, Ohio. He was originally named Hiram Ulysses Grant.
..... Click the link for more information.
 each had a superior general. But the North, with its larger population and comparatively enormous industry, enjoyed a tremendous material advantage. Both sides also resorted to conscription, even though it met some resistance (see draft riotsdraft riots,
in the American Civil War, mob action to protest unfair Union conscription. The Union Conscription Act of Mar. 3, 1863, provided that all able-bodied males between the ages of 20 and 45 were liable to military service, but a drafted man who furnished an acceptable
..... Click the link for more information.

Under Stanton, successor to Simon CameronCameron, Simon
, 1799–1889, American politician and financier, b. Lancaster co., Pa. From humble beginnings he rose to be a newspaper publisher and with considerable success branched out into canal and road construction, railroad promotion, banking, and iron and steel
..... Click the link for more information.
, the overall administration of the Union army was more efficient. Problems of organization still remained, however, and Henry W. HalleckHalleck, Henry Wager,
1815–72, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Oneida co., N.Y., grad. West Point, 1839. He entered the Corps of Engineers and became an expert on fortifications; his Elements of Military Art and Science
..... Click the link for more information.
 continued in the difficult role of military adviser, with the title of general in chief. The Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War, organized in Dec., 1861, attempted to influence the actions as well as the appointment of Union generals (its efforts were particularly strong on behalf of Hooker). The chairman, Benjamin F. Wade, was frequently at odds with Lincoln, and the committee's investigations and high-handed actions lowered morale among the Union forces.

Grant and Sherman

On the Georgia-Tennessee line in Sept., 1863, Bragg, having temporarily halted his retreat, severely jolted the Federals, who were saved from a complete rout by the magnificent stand of George H. ThomasThomas, George Henry,
1816–70, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Southampton co., Va. He served in the Seminole War and in the Mexican War. Later he taught at West Point and served in Texas.
..... Click the link for more information.
, the Rock of Chickamauga (see Chattanooga campaignChattanooga campaign,
Aug.-Nov., 1863, military encounter in the American Civil War. Chattanooga, Tenn., which commanded Confederate communications between the East and the Mississippi River and was also the key to loyal E Tennessee, had been an important Union objective as
..... Click the link for more information.
). Grant, newly appointed supreme commander in the West, hurried to the scene and, with William T. ShermanSherman, William Tecumseh,
1820–91, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Lancaster, Ohio. Sherman is said by many to be the greatest of the Civil War generals.
..... Click the link for more information.
, Hooker, and Thomas's fearless troops, drove Bragg back to Georgia (Nov. 25). After Knoxville, occupied in September, withstood Longstreet's siege (Nov.–Dec.), all Tennessee, hotbed of Unionism, was now safely restored to the Union.

In Mar., 1864, Lincoln, for many years an admirer of Grant, made him commander in chief. Leaving the West in Sherman's capable hands, Grant came east, took personal charge of Meade's Army of the Potomac, and engaged Lee in the Wilderness campaignWilderness campaign,
in the American Civil War, a series of engagements (May–June, 1864) fought in the Wilderness region of Virginia. Early in May, 1864, the Northern commander in chief, Grant, led the Army of the Potomac (118,000 strong) across the Rapidan River into the
..... Click the link for more information.
 (May–June, 1864). Outnumbered but still spirited, the Army of Northern Virginia was slowly and painfully forced back toward Richmond, and in July the tenacious Grant began the long siege of PetersburgPetersburg,
city (1990 pop. 38,386), politically independent and in no county, SE Va., on the Appomattox River; inc. 1850. A port of entry and an important tobacco market, it has industries producing chemicals, pharmaceuticals, furniture, structural steel, lumber, paper goods,
..... Click the link for more information.

Although Jubal A. EarlyEarly, Jubal Anderson,
1816–94, Confederate general, b. Franklin co., Va., grad. West Point, 1837. After fighting against the Seminole in Florida he resigned from the army (1838), studied law, and practiced at Rocky Mount, Va. He fought briefly in the Mexican War.
..... Click the link for more information.
 won at MonocacyMonocacy
, river, c.60 mi (100 km) long, rising in S Pa., and flowing S across Md. to join the Potomac River near Frederick, Md. On its banks, just E of Frederick, the Civil War battle of Monocacy was fought on July 9, 1864. Although the Union forces under Gen.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (July 9), threatening the city of Washington, the Confederates were unable to repeat Jackson's successful diversion of 1862, and Philip H. SheridanSheridan, Philip Henry,
1831–88, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Albany, N.Y. Although not a brilliant general, Sheridan's flair for leadership and his ready fighting ability made him the outstanding Union cavalry commander.
..... Click the link for more information.
, victorious in the grand manner at Cedar CreekCedar Creek,
small tributary of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, N of Strasburg, N Va. It was the scene of a Civil War battle (Oct. 19, 1864) in which Union general P. H. Sheridan defeated J. A. Early. Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park (est.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (Oct. 19), virtually ended Early's activities in the Shenandoah Valley. For his part, Sherman, opposed first by the wily Joe Johnston and then by John B. HoodHood, John Bell,
1831–79, Confederate general in the American Civil War, b. Owingsville, Ky. He resigned from the army (Apr., 1861) and entered the Confederate service 1862. He fought in the Peninsular campaign and at the second battle of Bull Run (Aug.
..... Click the link for more information.
, won the Atlanta campaignAtlanta campaign,
May–Sept., 1864, of the U.S. Civil War. In the spring of 1864, Gen. W. T. Sherman concentrated the Union armies of G. H. Thomas, J. B. McPherson, and J. M. Schofield around Chattanooga.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (May–Sept., 1864).

The Election of 1864

On the political front, a movement within the Republican party to shelve Lincoln had collapsed as the tide turned in the Union's favor. With Andrew JohnsonJohnson, Andrew,
1808–75, 17th President of the United States (1865–69), b. Raleigh, N.C. Early Life

His father died when Johnson was 3, and at 14 he was apprenticed to a tailor.
..... Click the link for more information.
, Lincolm's own choice for Vice President over the incumbent Hannibal HamlinHamlin, Hannibal,
1809–91, Vice President of the United States (1861–65), b. Paris, Maine. Admitted to the bar in 1833, he practiced at Hampden, Maine. He was a Maine legislator (1836–40, 1847), a U.S. Representative (1843–47), and a U.S.
..... Click the link for more information.
, the President was renominated in June, 1864. The Democrats nominated McClellan, who still had a strong popular following, on an ambiguous peace platform (largely dictated by Clement L. VallandighamVallandigham, Clement Laird
, 1820–71, American political leader, leader of the Copperheads in the Civil War, b. New Lisbon (now Lisbon), Ohio. He became (1842) a lawyer, was elected to the Ohio legislature (1845, 1846), and was editor (1847–49) of the Dayton
..... Click the link for more information.
, leader of the CopperheadsCopperheads,
in the American Civil War, a reproachful term for those Northerners sympathetic to the South, mostly Democrats outspoken in their opposition to the Lincoln administration. They were especially strong in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, where Clement L.
..... Click the link for more information.
), which the ex-general repudiated. Even so, Lincoln was easily reelected.

Lee's Surrender

After the fall of Atlanta, which had contributed to Lincoln's victory, Sherman's troops made their destructive march through Georgia. Hood had failed to draw Sherman back by invading Union-held Tennessee, and after the battle of Franklin (Nov. 30) Hood's army was almost completely annihilated by Thomas at Nashville (Dec. 15–16, 1864). Sherman presented Lincoln with the Christmas gift of Savannah, Ga., and then moved north through the Carolinas. Farragut's victory at Mobile Bay (Aug. 5, 1864) had effectively closed that port, and on Jan. 15, 1865, Wilmington, N.C., was also cut off (see Fort FisherFort Fisher,
Confederate earthwork fortification, built by Gen. William Whiting in 1862 to guard the port of Wilmington, N.C.; scene of one of the last large battles of the Civil War.
..... Click the link for more information.

After Sheridan's victory at Five ForksFive Forks,
crossroads near Dinwiddie Courthouse, SW of Petersburg, Va. The last important battle of the Civil War was fought there on Apr. 1, 1865. Philip H. Sheridan, leading his own and Gouverneur K. Warren's corps, decisively defeated the Confederates under Pickett.
..... Click the link for more information.
 (Apr. 1), the Petersburg lines were breached and the Confederates evacuated Richmond (Apr. 3). With his retreat blocked by Sheridan, Lee, wisely giving up the futile contest, surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse (see under AppomattoxAppomattox
, town (1990 pop. 1,707), seat of Appomattox co., central Va.; inc. 1925. Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union general Ulysses S. Grant at nearby Appomattox Courthouse on Apr. 9, 1865. After Gen.
..... Click the link for more information.
) on Apr. 9, 1865. The surviving Confederate armies also yielded when they heard of Lee's capitulation, thus ending the conflict that resulted in some 620,000 casualties (with more recent estimates suggesting the number could be 750,000 or more).


The long war was over, but for the victors the peace was marred by the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the greatest figure of the war. The ex-Confederate states, after enduring the unsuccessful attempts of ReconstructionReconstruction,
1865–77, in U.S. history, the period of readjustment following the Civil War. At the end of the Civil War, the defeated South was a ruined land. The physical destruction wrought by the invading Union forces was enormous, and the old social and economic
..... Click the link for more information.
 to impose a new society on the South, were readmitted to the Union, which had been saved and in which slavery was now abolished. The Civil War brought death to more Americans than did any other war, including World War II. Photographs by Mathew B. BradyBrady, Mathew B.,
c.1823–96, American pioneer in photography, b. Warren co., N.Y. Brady learned the daguerreotype process from S. F. B. Morse and in 1844 opened his own photographic studio in New York City, which brought him fame as America's first great portrait
..... Click the link for more information.
 and others reveal some of the horror behind the statistics. The war cost untold billions and nourished rather than canceled hatreds and intolerance, which persisted for decades. It established many of the patterns, especially a strong central government, that are now taken for granted in American national life. Virtually every battlefield, with its graves, is either a national or a state park. Monuments commemorating Civil War figures and events are conspicuous in almost all sizable Northern towns and are even more numerous in the upper South.


Notable fictional treatments of the war are Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage (1896) and Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind (1936), and there is one outstanding work in verse—Stephen Vincent Benét's John Brown's Body (1928). The quantity of historical literature on the Civil War is enormous, and there is no single, adequate bibliographical guide. For bibliographies, see Allan Nevins et al., ed., Civil War Books: A Critical Bibliography (2 vol., 1967–69).

On the causes of, and events leading up to, the war, see A. C. Cole, The Irrepressible Conflict, 1850–1865 ("History of American Life" series, Vol. VII, 1934; rev. ed. 1938, repr. 1971); G. F. Milton, The Eve of Conflict (1934); A. O. Craven, The Coming of the Civil War (1942, new ed. 1957) and Civil War in the Making (1959, repr. 1968); C. B. Dew, Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War (2001).

Standard, older works on the military phase are C. C. Buel and R. U. Johnson, ed., Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (4 vol., 1877; new ed. 1956); J. C. Ropes, The Story of the Civil War (2 vol., 1898–99; completed by W. R. Livermore, 1913); and F. Maurice, Statesmen and Soldiers of the Civil War (1926). R. E. Lee: A Biography (4 vol., 1934–35) and Lee's Lieutenants (3 vol., 1942–44), both by D. S. Freeman, and Lincoln Finds a General (5 vol., 1949–59), by K. P. Williams, are definitive in their respective fields.

See also T. L. Livermore, Numbers and Losses in the Civil War in America, 1861–1865 (1901; new ed. 1957, repr. 1969); J. F. Rhodes, History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 (1917, new ed. 1961); J. B. McMaster, A History of the People of the United States during Lincoln's Administration (1927); E. C. Smith, The Borderland in the Civil War (1927, repr. 1970); R. S. Henry, The Story of the Confederacy (1931, rev. ed. 1957); C. R. Fish, The American Civil War: An Interpretation (1937); M. Leech, Reveille in Washington (1941); A. Nevins, Ordeal of the Union (8 vol., 1947–71); B. Catton, A Stillness at Appomattox (1953) and other studies; B. Quarles, The Negro in the Civil War (1953, repr. 1968); L. M. Starr, Bohemian Brigade (1954); J. B. Mitchell, Decisive Battles of the Civil War (1955); R. S. West, Jr., Mr. Lincoln's Navy (1957); S. Foote, The Civil War (3 vol., 1958–74); M. M. Boatner, The Civil War Dictionary (1959); American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War (ed. by R. M. Ketchum et al., 1960); R. F. Nichols, The Stakes of Power (1961); V. Jones, The Civil War at Sea (3 vol., 1960–62); J. M. McPherson, The Negro's Civil War (1965); J. G. Randall, The Civil War and Reconstruction (2d ed., with D. Donald, 1969); E. Foner, Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War (1980); E. B. and Barbara Long, The Civil War Day by Day (1971, repr. 1985); J. McPherson, Battlecry of Freedom (1988) and For Cause and Comrades (1997); E. Forbes, Thirty Years After (1994); H. Holzer and M. E. Neely, Jr., Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory (1994); G. W. Gallagher, The Confederate War (1997) and The Union War (2011); J. M. Perry, A Bohemian Brigade: The Civil War Correspondents (2000); A. Fahs, The Imagined Civil War: Popular Literature of the North and South (2001); D. W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (2001); D. J. Eicher, The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War (2001); W. A. McDougall, Throes of Democracy: The American Civil War Era, 1829–1877 (2008); C. B. Flood, 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History (2009); J. Keegan, The American Civil War: A Military History (2009); D. Stoker, The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War (2010); G. C. Rable, God's Almost Chosen People: A Religious History of the Civil War (2010); D. W. Blight, American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era (2011); B. Fawcett, How to Lose the Civil War: Military Mistakes of the War between the States (2011); A. Foreman, A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War (2011); D. Goldfield, America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation (2011); A. Goodheart, 1861: The Civil War Awakening (2011); P. Johnson, Civil War America: 1850–1870 (2011); J. I. Stokesbury, A Short History of the Civil War (2011); H. Zinn, The Other Civil War: Slavery and Struggle in Civil War America (2011); A. C. Guelzo, Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction (2012); C. L. Symonds, The Civil War at Sea (2012); J. M. McPherson, War on the Waters (2012); P. J. Brownlee et al., Home Front (2013); M. Humphreys, Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War (2013); B. Wineapple, Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848–1877 (2013); E. R. Varon, Armies of Deliverance (2019). See also the bibliographies in separate articles on the major events of the war.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

civil war

armed conflict, often protracted, in which politically organized groups within a STATE contest for political control of the state, or for or against the establishment of all or part of that state in a new form. Major civil wars, such as the American Civil War (1861-65) or the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), may represent highly significant watersheds in the life of a nation state or society. For example, the English Civil War (1642-48) sounded the death-knell of English ABSOLUTISM, and, as suggested by Barrington MOORE (1967), the American Civil War, with the victory of the industrial North over the slave-owning Southern states, can be seen as confirming the supremacy of capitalism throughout the entirety of the North American continent. Since civil wars may bring revolutionary change, and many revolutions involve armed struggle, it is sometimes difficult to decide when to speak of civil wars and when REBELLION or REVOLUTION. The Russian Revolution, for example, led to a protracted internal war before the success of the revolution was confirmed. See also MILITARY INTERVENTION.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Civil War


an organized armed struggle for state power between classes and social groups within a country; the most acute form of class struggle. In a class-antagonistic society civil war is “a natural and, under certain conditions, an inevitable continuation, development, and intensification of the class struggle” (V. I. Lenin. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 30. p. 133).

Civil wars develop on the basis of social crises, when state power is no longer able to “alleviate the conflicts” between hostile classes or to suppress by “legal” means the class opponents of the existing political and social system (see F. Engels, in K. Marx and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21. p. 170; Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 33. pp. 6–7). The conditions that produce civil war are determined by the disposition of class forces within a country and in the international arena. Therefore, civil wars may be combined with wars between states, a struggle against foreign intervention, or a national liberation struggle. Epochs of social revolution are characterized by civil wars in which the combatants are progressive and reactionary classes—the oppressed and the oppressors. In terms of their objective role in history, such wars are a necessary means of achieving the political goals of a revolution. These goals may be attained through uprisings by the oppressed classes, who are struggling for their social liberation. They may also be achieved through suppression of counterrevolutionary uprisings (for example, the Vendée of 1793 in France), which are aimed at restoring obsolete social relations and returning reactionary classes to power. However, in antagonistic social formations civil wars may occur in which various groupings of the ruling classes oppose each other (for example, the civil war during the decline of the Roman Republic and the Wars of the Roses in England).

The historical types and forms of civil wars are varied and include slave revolts, peasant wars, guerrilla wars, and armed struggles of the people against the government. Lenin pointed out that the epoch of the proletarian revolution is characterized by the appearance of higher and more complex forms “of a prolonged civil war embracing the whole country, that is, an armed struggle between two sections of the people” (ibid., vol. 14, p. 11). In such wars there is generally a division of a state’s territory between the combatants, each of which has its own apparatus for conducting hostilities and organizing an army and political administration. The specific features of civil wars as distinguished from wars between states are reflected in the drawing up of tactics that are subordinate to the fulfillment of the tasks of the political and class struggle.

The forcible overthrow by the people of a reactionary government is a just act. A people’s right to an armed struggle against an antipopular government was upheld in the 18th century by representatives of petit bourgeois and bourgeois democracy and by Utopian communists (for example. J. J. Rousseau, C. Helvétius. T. Jefferson, and G. Mably). This right was legally formalized in a number of documents from the age of bourgeois revolutions (for example, the American Declaration of Independence).

In the modern age the international working class and its Communist vanguard act as a consistent defender of civil war for the liberation of the working people from any oppression. At the same time, Marxism rejects the demand for civil war “under any conditions,” which is put forth by doctrinaires and dogmatists, Blanquism. and “left-wing” revisionism. The working class has a stake in overthrowing the rule of monopoly capital and crushing the resistance of counterrevolutionary forces without civil war. However, the occurrence of civil war depends on the strength of the resistance of the reactionary classes, who are usually the first to resort to civil war (see Lenin, ibid., vol. 11, p. 123). In such conditions power can be won and counterrevolutionary uprisings crushed only by an organized armed struggle of the working class and its allies. With the strengthening of the repressive military-police apparatus, the growth of militarism in capitalist countries, and the development of military technology, success in civil war depends to a decisive degree on the extent to which the popular masses are organized and on the defection of troops to the side of the revolution.

Carrying out a socialist revolution does not always involve a definite form of struggle. Certain forms of struggle become paramount in a revolution, depending on the concrete historical situation and the correlation of class forces within the country and in the world arena. In the USSR and some other countries the dictatorship of the proletariat was established as a result of civil wars. However, in a number of other socialist countries the working class established its power without civil war. In present-day conditions the working class in a number of capitalist countries has a chance to carry out a revolutionary transformation of society without civil war, through other means of class struggle and suppression of the resistance of the monopolistic bourgeoisie. This does not exclude the possibility that with a change in the concrete situation in a given country, civil war may become at a certain stage the principal form of struggle for socialism.


Marx. K. Vosemnadtsatoe briumera Lui Bonaparta. In K. Marx and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed.. vol. 8.
Marx. K. Grazhdanskaia voina vo Franlsii. Ibid., vol. 17.
Marx. K. Klassovaia bor’ba vo Frantsii s 1848 po 1850g. Ibid., vol. 7.
Engels. F. Krest’ianskaia voina v Germanii. Ibid.
Engels, F. Revoliutsiia i kontrrevoliulsiia v Germanii. Ibid., vol. 8.
Lenin, V. I. Voennaia programma proletarskaia revoliulsii. In Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed.. vol. 30.
Lenin. V. I. Detskaia bolezn’ “levizny” v kommunizme. Ibid., vol. 41.
Lenin, V. I. Marksizm i vosstanie. Ibid., vol. 34.
Lenin, V. I. Partizanskaia voina. Ibid., vol. 14.
Lenin, V. I. Russkaia revoliutsiia i grazhdanskaia voina. Ibid., vol. 34.
Lenin. V. I. Uroki moskovskogo vosstaniia. Ibid., vol. 13.
Programma KPSS (Priniata XXII s‘ ’ezdom KPSS). Moscow, 1969.
Mezhdunarodnoe soveshchanie kommunisticheskikh i rabochikh partii: Dokumenty i materialy. Moscow. 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Contact Laurie Woodruff, executive director and editor, Essential Civil War Curriculum,
And in 2008, he began working with the staff at Fort Union National Monument in New Mexico to help form a living-history volunteer group to depict the thousands of Hispanic soldiers from New Mexico who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War.
National Park Service--the American Civil War. civilwar.
For the Oregon and Oregon State coaching staffs, there's more than simply pride at stake in the Civil War.
Additionally the work includes a useful wartime chronology which interlaces important events from women's history with major civil war events and a selected documentary section containing 23 entries replete with summary introductory overviews for each primary source document.
Summary: In spite of ceaselessly escalating tensions and widespread fears of civil war in Lebanon, domestic and regional factors will likely contain the recent outbreak of street violence and prevent it from erupting into anything like the 1975-90 conflict, analysts told The Daily Star on Tuesday.
This month's issue of Rediscovering the Civil War features a collection of unique stories on the events and personalities of the American Civil War.
"How would [advocates of withdrawal] respond to the eruption of full-blown civil war in Iraq and the massive ethnic cleansing it would produce?" write Robert Kagan and William Kristol in the Weekly Standard.