American Civil War

 

America at War

Introduction

            The purpose of writing this paper is to shed light on the causes, consequences and the strategy of the civil war which was fought in America from 1860 to 1865. The paper will include a detailed account of the role played by ‘Slavery’ in the war and the reasons which bought a common citizen to participate in it along with exploring the facts that lead to the Southern invasion by the Northern armies.

America is perhaps the most powerful nation having survived three biggest challenges; the war of independence, the colonial oppression and the civil war where the civil war served as a turning point in the US history as it laid down the basis for the growth of capitalistic system in the country. This war engaged the entire region, from Valverde to Mexico, Tullahoma to the coast of Florida with more than 3 million people participating in the fight. The war ended with killing 2 percent of the entire American population (The crossroads, n.d.).

Factors which Motivated People to Fight

            One of the most frequently asked question in the American history is why ordinary citizens of both sides indulged in the battle and what motivated them to fight. The answer is not a straight forward one, however, the simplistic view is that men from both South and the Northern region for the central reason due to which the war started; the southern side wanted to preserve slavery while people in north wanted to preserve the Union and launch a crusade to free the country of this shameless tradition (Chris, 2008).

It is a fact to be noted that the individuals who fought the war were shockingly alike in their thoughts and their very nature. The people on each side of the battle believed that they are fighting for a noble cause and for most of them, it was an honor to give away their lives for the betterment of the country. Many considered it a holy cause whiles a significant majority participated because their friends or neighbors had joined in and they wanted to avoid being called a coward. However the main cause for which an average individual in the North fought to eradicate slavery while those in South wanted to support the trend and were seeking to take vengeance on people who, according to their belief would ‘pollute the southern soil’(Chris, 2008). The civil war, which is known by the names of ‘war between the states’ and ‘war of the rebellion’ was actually fought between the slave states in the north such as Virginia and Maryland and the southern states including Georgia and South Carolina where the slave population was lesser in percentage. During the 1600-1700, the slave population in America grew at a great pace as the slaves were being imported as well as the Black population got accustomed to life in this country and spread in small communities. USA has a significant place in history in context of slavery because no slave populace in the new world was able to sustain itself and increase rapidly in numbers as Africans did in America (McNeese, 2003, pg. 4). During the period of British rule in USA, approximately 500,000 slaves were imported for fulfilling the shortage of labor in the Northern colonies and by the time America got independent, the population of slaves in the region increased by 10 times. After the war of independence was over, revolutionary goals were set up at a national level but most of the white states did not include freedom of slaves in their political agendas. But many Americans freed their slaves in order to celebrate the freedom from British rule as a gesture for love for freedom and this trend followed in the Southern region as well. Hence the number of freed slaves grew over the passage of time and they gradually moved to the urban areas. By the late half of the 18th century, many countries in the world including West Indies and Britain put restrictions on the slave trade and the North American states mainly Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Hemisphere and Massachusetts banned slavery. However, in the southern states, slavery continued to be the common way of life (McNeese, 2003, pg. 4).

When Abraham Lincoln was elected as the US president he proclaimed in his inaugural address that his administration had no plans to eliminate slavery wherever it is being practiced. This came as a big shock for African Americans and their white supporters. But this statement was not satisfactory enough for the confederate states of South America and they launch an attack the union states beginning with bombarding South Carolina (The civil, n.d.). Even though the Lincoln government clarified it that the war is not against black Americans and their rights, but a common citizen knew that it was a battle against slavery. To make it simple, the American nation was divided in to two contrasting classes; those who in support of Blacks and those who were against them. This was a war that affected every individual’s lifestyle in South as well as in the Northern urban areas and hence it was one of the biggest causes why common men got involved. The folks in the south were lived in villages and farms, they prospered from agriculture and farming and were heavily dependent on slaves whereas in the urban areas the culture was visibly different which influenced the thoughts of the people regarding slavery.

Grant’s Strategy For Invading South

The military leader who was given the command for the Union army was Ulysses S, Grant while Robert Lee was heading the army of Confederate States. Grant devised the war plan which aimed at attacking the confederate states from all directions and making use of the advantage of manpower that North had. Grant, who was given the position in 1884 restructured and reunited the Northern army and ordered the generals to take on the command of the divisions of the military force which were to accelerate the battle in Virginia.

From the aspects of generalship and war tactics, Grant brought out the worst in Lee and his generals through his brilliant planning and reversed the entire scenario at Gettysburg where previously the Confederate army had been successful in imposing its authority on the Union forces. The union generals under the supervision of Grant executed one of their best performances in the battle which outclassed their rivals (War of, n.d.). After heading the bloodiest battle in the west, questions were raised about his leadership but he received unconditional support from Lincoln and went on with his warfare strategies. Grant’s strategy revolved around gaining the control of all the core lands in the confederate states and it was for this aim that he led the campaign for Siege of Petersburg. The battle that was fought there resulted in eliminating a great majority of Lee’s army and made bought the Union closer to victory. Grant had planned to capture the central confederacy states including Virginia and  Georgia and fought a series of the bloodiest battle to gain the control of Richmond. As a result Lee was not able to bear the loss of the casualties that and he retreated around his capital while on the other hand another Union military leader William Sherman was successful in establishing control in Georgia and Atlanta.

During the peak time of war, General Pemberton was put in charge of defending Vicksburg fortifications, but after two failed assaults from the Union army, Grant issued orders to starve Pemberton out. Initially criticized for this, the strategy proved to be fruitful as on July, 1863Pemberton surrendered to the Grant’s forces. With this victory, the western confederacy states got completely off connected to the eastern confederacy states while the Union forces were able to gain control of the Mississippi river. In recognition of his outstanding planning and performance, President Lincoln give the command of all the armies from Alleghenies to Mississippi to Grant and promoted him to the position of major general.

Throughout the course of his military actions and campaigns the main feature that became prominent and gave him the ultimate advantage was his swiftness and timely attacks. After the battle of the Wilderness he attempted to capture the Cold Harbor while Lee’s army was unprepared. To take the advantage of their unpreparedness, Grant ordered direct assault which claimed the lives of 12000 men and Lee had no choice but to abandon the Harbor (American Civil, n.d.).  Grant’s extraordinary organizing and planning skills lead the northern army towards a series of victories in the battles fought in Mississippi, Virginia, New Orleans and Finally at Gettysburg which finally ended the civil war with Union States emerging as Victorious.

Conclusion

The Civil war was one of the bloodiest wars that were fought on the American Soil. Slavery was the central issue that sparked controversies between the southern and the northern states that later took the shape of a deadly conflict. With the end of this war came the end of racism and discrimination that had prevailed in America since centuries as African Americans were given citizenship and were nationally considered as free people.

 

References

American civil war. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2012, from,
http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/American_Civil_War
Chris. (2008). Why did they fight?. Retrieved January 13, 2012, from,
http://www.factasy.com/civil_war/2008/03/13/why_did_they_fight
McNeese, T. (2003). America’s civil war. St. Louis, Mo.: Milliken Pub. Company.

The war: The crossroads of our being. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2012, from,
http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/war/
The civil war and emancipation 1961-1965. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2012, from,
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2967.html
War of northern aggression war between the states civil war. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2012,
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http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/civil_war.htm