This chapter details the battles of the Civil War and looks at how the war impacted the nation's people, economy, and spirit. It then discusses the policies, programs, and protections instituted during Reconstruction.
Section 1 compares the North's and South's advantages and disadvantages at the start of the Civil War. The North's large population, transportation systems, naval force, and many resources made the Union well equipped for waging a war. In addition, the Union drew financial support from the national treasury, tariffs, and Northern banks. In contrast, the Confederacy's lack of sufficient revenue and worsening financial state made funding the war effort difficult. The South had the advantage of superior military leaders, but it lacked transportation networks and industry. Furthermore, the South needed a greater percentage of its population to fight the war, leaving fewer people working to support the effort. Both the Union and the Confederacy struggled with political disunion over the war. As each side evaluated the costs of war, military leaders designed strategies that they hoped would lessen casualties and bring victory.
Section 2 looks at the early battles and describes life during the Civil War. A Southern victory in the first battle convinced Lincoln to utilize all resources to defeat the Confederacy. The Union implemented its plan to seal off the major ports in the South, gain control of the lower Mississippi River, and capture New Orleans. In the West, General Ulysses S. Grant's campaign to seize control of the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers secured Union control of all of Kentucky and most of western Tennessee. In the East, major campaigns waged in the Southern states inflicted heavy casualties. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation following Confederate General Robert E. Lee's defeat at Antietam, the bloodiest one-day battle of the war. Many African Americans in the North now enlisted for military service. The South's failing economy led to food shortages, riots, and poor morale. In contrast, the North's growing industries supplied Union troops, while innovations in agriculture helped maintain crop production. On both sides, women worked in factories, ran farms and businesses, and worked as nurses. The battles produced huge number of casualties and wounded. In the camps, infection spread quickly, disease was rampant, and amputations were common. Prisoners of war endured conditions that were especially dreadful.
Section 3 reviews the turning point of the war and the surrender of the South. General Grant's siege on Vicksburg, Mississippi, cut the South in two. Confident after several victories, General Lee launched a northern invasion. However, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Union troops overwhelmed the Confederates. From that point forward, the Confederacy remained on the defensive. President Lincoln dedicated part of the battlefield as a cemetery. Intense fighting in Tennessee resulted in Union control of Chattanooga and cleared the way for an invasion of Georgia. Union General Ulysses S. Grant relentlessly attacked General Robert E. Lee's Confederate forces in Virginia, while Union General Sherman took Atlanta, moved on to the coast, and then turned north into South Carolina. Southerners were demoralized, but Atlanta's capture revitalized Northern support for the war. Voters reelected the president, and Lincoln took it as a mandate to end slavery permanently. Lee's race to escape Grant's forces in southwestern Virginia ended at Appomattox Courthouse, where Lee formally surrendered. Lincoln outlined his plan for restoring the Southern states to the Union, but he was assassinated before he could see his plans through.
Section 4 describes the early years of Reconstruction. President Lincoln's plans for Reconstruction called for leniency toward the South and a quick reconciliation. Radical Republicans in Congress, however, wanted to "revolutionize Southern institutions." Moderate and Radical Republicans devised a plan to change Southern society, but Lincoln blocked the bill's passage. For newly freed African Americans and refugees, the Freedman's Bureau offered federal assistance to help them adjust to their new lives. After Lincoln's assassination, President Johnson introduced a restoration plan similar to Lincoln's moderate policy. Radical Republicans opposed the plan, however, when former Confederate leaders showed up in Congress and Southern states introduced laws limiting African Americans' rights. When Republicans gained control of Congress, they passed the Civil Rights Act and the Military Reconstruction Act, which divided the former Confederacy into military districts and broadened the rights of freed people. Johnson's interference with Republican policy was answered with impeachment, and he narrowly escaped conviction. In 1868 Republican war hero Ulysses S. Grant was elected president, and the Republican-led Congress passed the Fifteenth Amendment.
Section 5 describes Republican rule in the South and the end of Reconstruction.
Republican reforms repealed the black codes, expanded public services, and provided funds to rebuild industries. African Americans took leadership roles in the Southern governments, sought educational opportunities, and established churches and social organizations. Secret resistance societies spread through the South, terrorizing Republican supporters and African Americans. As acts of violence grew rampant, Congress passed laws to combat disturbances in the South. President Grant lacked the political experience needed to guide the nation through Reconstruction. During his first term in office, Republican economic policies angered many Southerners and convinced Liberal Republicans to join Southern Democrats in opposing Grant. When a series of political scandals and a severe economic crisis hurt Republican authority in Congress, Democrats returned to power in Congress in 1874. After a disputed presidential election, a special commission voted Rutherford B. Hayes into the White House. Hayes pulled federal troops out of the South, ending Reconstruction. While some tried to build a "New South," many African Americans found themselves living once again in a society where they had little political power and few economic opportunities.