Portal:American Civil War

Portal:American Civil War
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Battle of Gettysburg
A dead Confederate soldier in Devil's Den at Gettysburg

The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a bitter sectional rebellion against the United States of America by the Confederate States of America, 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 South 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.

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An ironclad was a steam-propelled warship of the later 19th century, protected by iron or steel armor plates. Developed as a result of the vulnerability of wooden warships to explosive or incendiary shells, the first ironclad battleship, La Gloire, was launched by the French Navy in 1859; she prompted the British Royal Navy to start building ironclads. After the first clashes of ironclads took place during the American Civil War, it became clear that the ironclad had replaced the unarmored line-of-battle ship as the most powerful warship afloat.

Ironclads were designed for several roles, including as high seas battleships, coastal defence ships, and long-range cruisers. The rapid evolution of warship design in the late 19th century transformed the ironclad from a wooden-hulled vessel which carried sails to supplement its steam engines into the steel-built, turreted battleships and cruisers familiar in the 20th century. This change was pushed forward by the development of heavier naval guns (the ironclads of the 1880s carried some of the heaviest guns ever mounted at sea), more sophisticated steam engines, and advances in metallurgy which made steel shipbuilding possible. The rapid pace of change in the ironclad period meant that many ships were obsolete as soon as they were complete, and that naval tactics were in a state of flux. Many ironclads were built to make use of the ram or the torpedo, which a number of naval designers considered the crucial weapons of naval combat. There is no clear end to the ironclad period, but towards the end of the 1890s the term ironclad dropped out of use. New ships were increasingly constructed to a standard pattern and designated battleships or armored cruisers.

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The state of Arkansas joined the Confederate States of America, and provided a source of troops, supplies, and military and political leaders for the fledgling country. Arkansas had become the 25th state of the United States, on June 15, 1836, entering as a slave state. Antebellum Arkansas was still a wilderness in most areas, rural and sparsely populated. As a result, it did not have early military significance when states began seceding from the Union.

During the secession crisis, but before Arkansas had seceded and before the onset of any fighting, the Federal Arsenal in Little Rock became a potential flash point. The small Federal garrison was forced to evacuate after a demand by Arkansas Governor Rector that the arsenal be turned over to state authority. At the beginning of 1861, the population of Arkansas, like several states of the Upper South, was not keen to secede on average, but they were also opposed to Federal coercion of seceded states. This was shown by the results of state convention referendum in February 1861. The referendum passed, but the majority of the delegates elected were conditional unionist in sympathy, rather than outright secessionist. This changed after the Confederacy attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina, and Abraham Lincoln called for troops to put down the rebellion. The move toward open war shifted public opinion into the secessionist camp, and Arkansas seceded from the Union on May 6, 1861. Despite its relative lack of strategic importance, the state was the scene of numerous small-scale battles during the Civil War.

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Dabney Herndon Maury.jpg
Dabney Herndon Maury (May 21, 1822 – January 11, 1900) was an officer in the United States Army, instructor at West Point, author of military training books, and a major general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

Maury was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the son of Naval officer John Minor Maury, who died of yellow fever in the West Indies when Dabney was two years old. He was brought up by his uncle, Matthew Fontaine Maury, studied law in Fredericksburg and graduated from the University of Virginia in the class of 1841. He finished his studies at the United States Military Academy in 1846 and was brevetted as a second lieutenant in the Mounted Rifles. Maury served in the Mexican-American War at the Battle of Cerro Gordo, and suffered a painful wound that almost resulted in the amputation of his arm. He later authored a book, Tactics for Mounted Rifles, which became the standard textbook.

When the Civil War began, Maury was the Assistant Adjutant General in the New Mexico Territory, based in Santa Fe. Hearing the news of the firing on Fort Sumter, he resigned from the United States Army and travelled back to Virginia. He entered the Confederate Army as a colonel, serving as an Adjutant General, then was Chief of Staff under General Earl Van Dorn. Following the Battle of Pea Ridge, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general and assigned to field command. Maury led a division at the Battle of Corinth, and was appointed major general in November 1862. He participated in army operations around Vicksburg, Mississippi, and in the defense of Mobile, Alabama. In the latter military campaign, Maury commanded the Department of the Gulf.

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First Manassas map2.jpg
Credit: Durova

This manuscript Confederate position map of the First Battle of Manassas, 1861 includes some troop positions and lists of Confederate regiments with the names of their commanders; relief is shown by hachures.

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African-American Repatriations • Minutemen (secessionist) • Dakota Territory in the American Civil War • Wyoming in the American Civil War • Alexander W. Campbell • George Yost Coffin • Charles F. Collins • Julius A. De Lagnel • A. H. Gladden • Andrew Wills Gould • Thomas A. Harris (CSA) • John David McAdoo • William W. Mackall • Ebenezer Magoffin • Henry C. Magruder • Henry Maury • Daniel H. Reynolds • Thomas M. Scott • Henry H. Walker • James Ashby • George A.H. Blake • Albemarle Cady • Henry Boynton Clitz • William Watts Hart Davis • Frederick George D'Utassy • Benjamin D. Fearing • Charles A. Hickman • John H. King • William Raymond Lee • John Love • Francis Lowe • James B. Speers • James M. Williams
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31st Maine Infantry Regiment56th Illinois InfantryBattle of Amelia SpringsBattle of BerryvilleBattle of Blair's Landing • Battle of Boonsborough • Battle of Cabin Creek • Battle of Fort Sumter II • Battle of Guard HillBattle of Middle Boggy DepotBattle of Rice's StationBattle of Simmon's BluffBattle of Summit PointBattle of Yellow BayouCharleston Arsenal • Edenton Bell Battery • Elmira PrisonFirst Battle of Dalton • Samuel Benton • Blackshear PrisonOrris S. FerryEdwin ForbesHiram B. GranburyHenry Thomas Harrison • Ben Hardin Helm • Louis Hébert (colonel) • Benjamin G. HumphreysLunsford L. LomaxMaynard CarbineDaniel RugglesThomas W. ShermanHezekiah G. Spruill • Smith Percussion Carbine • Edward C. WalthallConfederate States Secretary of the Navy • Confederate States Secretary of the Treasury • Delaware in the American Civil War • Ironclad Board • Other American Civil War battle stubsOther American Civil War stubs

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