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Military Facts – U.S. Civil War Facts Sheet

The American Civil War was one of the most influential and important battles in American History. Starting on April 12th, 1861 and ending on April 9th, 1865, the Civil War began as a conflict between the Northern and the Southern states. In the presidential election of 1860, republican candidate Abraham Lincoln made it very clear that he wanted to abolish slavery and keep the union together. With the support of many of the Northern states, Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860. This triggered the secession of 11 southern slave states, led by South Carolina, who did not agree with Lincoln’s policies and felt they had no other choice but to leave the Union. The succeeded southern states formed the Confederate States of America (“the Confederacy”), prompting a bloody, four year battle over state rights that changed the course of American history forever.



  • Abraham Lincoln was officially inaugurated on March 4th, 1861, declaring that he would not accept secession of the Southern states.
  • The Civil War officially began on April 12th, 1861 when P.G.T. Beauregard launched an attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
  • During the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861, General Irvin McDowell advanced on the Confederate troops stationed in Manassas Junction, Virginia. Although initially successful, Confederate reinforcements forced federal troops to retreat resulting in a victory for the South.
  • Over 3 million men risked their lives fighting in the Civil War, making it one of the largest wars in history.
  • 12,401 soldiers from the Union army were reported missing, killed or wounded during the Battle of Antietam. With 23,000 total deaths between both sides, this battle was the single bloodiest of the entire Civil War. This battle was a turning point in the war, halting General Lee’s advancement northbound, opening the door for Abraham Lincoln to announce the abolition of slavery.
  • The Battle of Shiloh began on the morning of April 6, 1862 and lasted for two days. More Americans lost their lives in these two days than in all previous American wars put together.
  • The use of medicine was very new to the America’s during the Civil War. The Union army started the war with only 98 doctors, while the confederate army began with only 24. This lack of medical knowledge resulted in the death of one in four soldiers, with more dying from malnutrition and disease than from gunfire.
  • General Ulysses S. Grant did not have a fondness for military ceremonies or music. He said that he was only familiar with two songs. According to Grant, “One was Yankee Doodle,” he grumbled. The other one wasn’t.”
  • The first appearance of paper money was issued in 1862 by the United States Congress. It was called “greenbacks.”
  • On July 4th, 1863 General John C. Pemberton of the Confederate army gave in to the Union at the Battle of Vicksburg. It took 81 years for the Vicksburg area to celebrate and officially recognize the Fourth of July as a national day of remembrance.
  • Men enlisting in the war were offered a monetary award, also known as a “bounty” for their services, with some amounts reaching as high as $677. Bounty jumping became a popular profession for many soldiers who would sign up to get the award, and then desert their companies to enlist in another area. One man bounty jumped 32 times prior to when he was captured!
  • African Americans made up smaller than one percent of the population in the north at the beginning of the war. By the end of the war, however, blacks made up at least 10 percent of the northern army. An estimated 180,000 African American men enlisted to fight for their country.
  • On November 19th, 1863 Abraham Lincoln delivered his memorable Gettysburg Address to the awaiting crowd that had gathered at the Union cemetery of Gettysburg.
  • In the year 1864, Ulysses S. Grant became Lieutenant General. He then escorted the 533,000 troops of the Union Army into battle. Grant became President of the United States 3 years later.
  • President Abraham Lincoln issued his final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 declaring the abolition of slavery in the United States. Roughly 4 million slaves were set free by the Emancipation Proclamation. The remaining slaves were declared free with the ratification of the 13th amendment on December 6th, 1865.
  • The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia led by General Robert E. Lee finally surrendered to the Union on April 9th, 1865 in the village of Appomattox. As a respectful gesture, Grant allowed Lee to keep his sword and his horse named Traveller.
  • The final skirmish of the war took place one month after General Lee had surrendered at Appomattox. On May 13, 1865, Private John J. Williams was the final person to lose his life for the Civil War at the battle of Palmito Ranch in Texas. This skirmish was viewed as a victory for the confederates.
  • President Lincoln went to see a play called “The Marble Heart” at a theater in Washington D.C. One of the actors in the play was named John Wilkes Booth.
  • Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at the Ford theater on April 14, 1865 while viewing a performance of “Our American Cousin” in Washington, D.C. He was shot by actor and confederacy supporter John Wilkes Booth.

For Additional Information on the American Civil War, please visit the resources below:

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