The United States of America Civil War began on April 12th, 1861, as a result of the unending deep-rooted sectional conflict that was reflected by economic and social-political disparities between the northern and the southern regions. In the election that was held in 1860, the Republican Party under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln sent a clear message during the campaign that they were opposed to the expansion of slavery beyond the territories that it was already existing. The victory of the Republican Party in the election that was held made seven southern states match in protest by declaring secession from the union prior to Lincoln’s inauguration David et al. (2001). The confederate states’ attack on the United States military installation forced President Lincoln to respond by calling for a volunteer army from various states, thus enhancing the declaration of secession in four more southern states. However, a total of eight slave states refused to join hands with the confederate states. Both south and north had raised armies as the union got control of the Border States during the start of the war and constructed a naval blockade David et al. (2001).
The antagonistic north and south were not ready for the war. The northern region had a population of 22 million people, and it was endowed with mighty military capabilities while the southern region on their part had a population of 9 million, but out of that, almost an equivalent 4 million people were the enslaved blacks whose loyalty to the confederacy was questionable. The confederacy and the union depended at first on the volunteers but were both forced to bring the onboard military draft to raise more army David (, 2004). The civil war began with both the union and the confederacy being confident of early victory. In the early stages of the civil war, there was an expectation that the war would end soon for the simple reason that the northern region was stronger than the southern region. Though the northern soldier’s number coupled with immense firepower surpassed that of the southern region, their military experience was not adequate for an easy victory, for the north lacked skillful direction of military strategy. Hence the chances of the north winning with ease disappeared. The south had some advantages, one being knowledge of the topography of their territory; it was on the defensive side and thus was fighting to maintain autonomy and also had strong military tradition coupled with skilled military leaders James (, 2002). The initial battle at Bull Run, Virginia, which was near Washington, denied the Union forces a victory that would have been easier and indeed setting the pace for established pattern in the Eastern United States of swift victories for the southern. Though the Union forces lost East to confederate states, it recorded victories in the west and a gradual military achievement in the sea. The union-controlled navy forces, but the problem was that it was scattered and very weak to resist any military invasion prompting measures to make it stronger force David (2004). Lincoln imposed a barrier to the southern coast, and its effect was felt in 1863 when the southern was unable to export cotton to Europe, and importation of ammunition, clothing, and medical supplies caused a hitch. David Farragut, an intelligent union naval commander, in 1862 staged an offensive on the mouth of the Mississippi River, forcing the confederate states to give up their largest city in their southern territory, New Orleans, Louisiana. In the month of August 1864, his army fortified the entrance of Mobile Bay, Alabama, and captured the confederate army vessel, thus sealing off the port. In the valley of Mississippi, the army of the Union front had a series of victories James (, 2002). The union forces broke the Confederate line in Tennessee, making it easy to occupy almost the whole of the western part. Under General Ulysses Grant, the union was able to resist counterattack at Shiloh. In Virginia, the Union forces lost in an attempt to capture Richmond, the capital of confederates. The two brilliant generals of the confederates, Robert Lee and Thomas Jackson surpassed in ability their union counterparts and were able to resist the penetration of the Union forces. The confederate emerged victorious at the second battle of Bull Run, and this encouraged Lee to cross the Potomac River and attack Maryland. Although the group led by General McClean outnumbered that of Lee’s, he failed to conquer him, prompting President Lincoln to fire him because of the failure. The fates of the northern military remained uncertain in the East as Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia subdued the union forces at Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Chancellorsville. Though the confederate was the victor in those territories, it cost the life of the most valuable lieutenant of Lee, General Jackson, who was mistakenly killed by his own men David et al. (2001). The turning point of the war happened when the Union forces took over Vicksburg and Gettysburg in 1863. President Lincoln appointed Grant as the commander in chief of the Union forces and assigned him to the east. In 1864, General Grant’s army collided with Lee’s confederate army in Virginia in a three-day battle. In the west, the Union forces took control of Tennessee with success in territories like Chattanooga and nearby Lookout Mountain David et al (2001). This facilitated General William Sherman attack on Georgia, subduing several confederate forces, leading to his occupation of the state capital of Atlanta. General Sherman advanced northwards and in 1865 captured Charleston, South Carolina. This victory reduced the strength and the will of the southern to fight back. General Grant laid Petersburg, Virginia under siege for nine months in 1865 forcing General Lee to retreat back to the south but it was to late for him to do so for he was surrounded by the mighty union forces rendering him helpless David (2004).
Lee success in his military leadership was because of his character and devotion to his duty coupled with brilliant tactical victories in successive battles. His failure in the war can be attributed to the fact that he lacked full direction of the strength of the southern army.
The union’s economic, political and military capabilities well surpassed that of the confederacy. Though the war lasted four years the confederate states proved to be resilient on different occasions during the war James (2002). The war tide continued to change throughout the war and so were the military, political and economic powers of the antagonistic parties. We can say that each side had share of military success though eventually the north carried the day because it had stable economy, controlled the central government and in addition it had immense manpower which helped it conquer the south David et al (2001).
The American civil war had negative impact for it caused destruction to properties and human lives. To sum it up a total of 620,000 men lost their lives and many more were wounded. Several other men died of sickness and diseases. The south was badly affected because most of the fighting took place there James (2002).
David, D, Jean, B, Michael, H. The Civil War and Reconstruction. New York: W.W.Norton and Company, Inc, 2001.
David, W. The battle of the Bull Run, 1861.New York: Harcourt, 2004.
James, M. Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam.New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.