The American Civil War (1861-65) – The Costliest War Ever Fought on American Soil

America – the land of opportunities, had seen its share of good and evil during its journey to becoming the most powerful nation in the world. Of all the wars and rebellions that were fought on the soil of America was the Civil War which is regarded as the costliest war ever fought on the soil of America, costing this great nation the lives of over 620,000 soldiers. Injuring millions, this was a war fought between brothers, between the very states that once held hands to form the United States of America.

How it all began…

What really triggered the Civil war in America? Well, there were a mix of causes with slavery predominating. Slavery in United States of America can be traced back to 1691 in Virginia. Though abandoned by most of the northern states, slavery continued among the southern states long after the American War of Independence.

Till 1850, the Southern politicians ensured that slavery flourished in their nations by retaining a balance of power in the Senate by maintaining an equal number of ‘free’ and ‘slave’ states. This balance was first disrupted when the southern states chose to strengthen the laws pertaining to slavery in exchange for including California – a free state – in the Senate during 1850. Further weakening of power happened when Minnesota and Oregon (both Free states) were included in the years 1858 and 1859 respectively.

Further addition of Free states was encouraged due to the growth of northern states as compared to the southern states. The northern states embraced industrialization thereby leading to prosperity, improved infrastructure and population growth. 1859 also saw the acceptance of the anti-slavery Wyandotte Constitution by the Congress.

Meanwhile the two major parties of the nation – the Whigs and the Democrats – were getting increasingly confined to the northern states and the southern states respectively. The Whigs in the northern states blended to form the Republicans during 1854. Republicans, supporting industrialization was an anti-slavery party.

Abraham Lincoln representing the Republican Party was elected president of the United States of America during the election of 1860. This was followed by South Carolina leaving the union on December 24, 1860. 1861 saw the secession of other states like Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. When Lincoln finally took office on March 4, 1861, the Confederacy was formed by seven slave states that had declared session. President Abraham Lincoln was left with a collapsing nation.

The Confederate agents made futile attempts of negotiation with the Lincoln government. On April 12, 1861 troops under the order of the Confederate President Jefferson Davis captured fort Sumter, thereby taking the first step towards the American Civil War. The Confederates did not have to wait long to have the first taste of failure. They were defeated at the Battle of Antietam during September 1862. This was followed by the defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg during 1863. The Confederate general Robert E Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865.

Confederate forces across the South started surrendering and June 23, 1865 saw the end of the American Civil War with Confederate general Stand Watie surrendering his forces. The United States of America paid heavily for this success. 1865 witnessed the assassination of President Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth who was a supporter of the southern Confederate. The Southern economy suffered heavily during this war. Shortage of food, inflation, bread riots etc took the economy to the verge of collapsing. President Andrew Johnson now had the responsibility of leading this broken nation to prosperity.