The Civil War split the nation. It was the most bitter conflict within the United States. The source of the conflict between the North and the South resulted from fundamentally different ways of life. Economy in the South was heavily based on agriculture and growing cotton. The North was heavily industrialized with factories and manufacturing being central to the economy.
Growing and harvesting cotton required large numbers of workers. This work force was made up of about 4 million slaves. By the 1800's, the African slave trade had become illegal. But existing slaves were not freed. Men and women of the North pushed to completely abolish slavery. The South feared that losing the slaves would have a severe economic impact on cotton plantations.
Abraham Lincoln was against slavery. When he was elected President in 1860, seven Southern states left, or seceded, from the United States. They formed the Confederate States of America. On April 12, 1861, southern Confederate forces captured Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Four more states seceded, and the Civil War began.
The Civil War consisted of more than 50 major battles and 5000 minor battles. In less than 5 years, more than 600,000 men were killed and hundreds of thousands of others were wounded. The Union army with more soldier and resources eventually overcame the Confederate army. On April 9, 1865, General Lee surrendered his Confederate troops. The war was over. Five days after the surrender treaty was signed, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by a Southern sympathizer.
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The following time line shows major events of the Civil War. Click on any of the events for more detail.
|Slavery||Lincoln Elected||The South Secedes||Battle of Bull Run||The War Order||Emancipation Proclamation||Surrender General Lee's Confederate Troops||Assassination of President Lincoln||Final surrender of the Confederate army|
|Pre-1861||Mar. 1861||Jan. 1861||July 1861||Jan. 1862||Jan. 1863||April 9, 1865||April 14, 1865||May 4, 1865|
|Library of Congress Civil War Home Page|