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Index

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The Leaders:
The Politicians

Jefferson Davis

Above: Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy.
Below: Abraham Lincoln of the Union.

Abraham Lincoln

Charles Terry Saxton
The American Civil War

History

After the War: the Peace

The Civil War: Hostilities

The Path to War




After the War: the Peace

            On 14th April 1865, while attending Ford's theatre, Washington, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

           Tragic though this event was, it did not alter much the aftermath of the war and the plans for peace, which had been being prepared since early in the previous year.

           The immediate consequences of the war were the abolition of slavery and the restoration of the Union of the Untied States of America.

Radical Republicans

           At the time of the American Civil War, the logistics of American politics and the allegiance of the political parties was different from that which it is now. The Republican Party, to which Lincoln belonged, was the more progressive and liberal party, and was opposed to slavery, and it was the Democratic Party which was against abolition. It was certain Republicans, therefore, during the debate for reconstruction, who had the most radical ideas.

           Some of these radicals felt that added to emancipation, blacks should be granted equal social and political rights. These issues were left unresolved at the time of Lincoln's assassination, though he favoured a more conciliatory approach to his defeated enemies, and after his death, this was the approach which ensued. It was not to be for another hundred years with President Lyndon Johnson's Civil Rights Act that some of the progressive ideas of people like Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens were to be implemented in the South.

Reconstruction

           The southern states, where most of the war had been conducted, were devastated; especially Georgia where General Sherman's Union army had been particularly enthusiastic about laying waste to the farms and buildings that they had passed.

           In terms of the lose of American lives, it remains to this day the most costly of all the wars in which the USA has been involved. Over 600,000 soldiers died, two-thirds of them due to disease, rather than in fighting (see Charles Terry Saxton's account of Yellow Fever at West Key, Florida).

           Over half a million were left wounded (lose of limbs). The famous story of Coca Cola originally containing the drug cocaine is partly explained, because there was a need amongst ex-soldiers with war wounds for a drink which contained a pain-killer which could ease their suffering.

The Leaders of the Confederacy

           The President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, was tried for treason and imprisoned for two years, before he was bailed. Some thought this too lenient a punishment, others that it was too severe. At this point in history, it was not the practice to punish defeated war leaders. He lived out his life peacefully touring Europe and South America and writing a history of the Civil War.

           General Robert Lee was not punished, and was called upon, on occasions, for advice on rebuilding the country. Prior to the war, he had been against secession from the Union and had carried out his role as Commander of the Confederate Army as a soldier doing his job. To this day he is regarded as a great general by both sides.

Military Legacy

           The American Civil War was in many ways the first modern war. It was the first war in which ironclad warships (heavily armoured) were deployed. It was the first war in which the machine gun was used. It was the first trench war. It was first war in which air logistics were used (albeit, just balloons). It was the first war in which railways and telegraphs played a key role in communications.

           It was, to a certain extent, a precursor to the First World War (1914-18), and should have been a warning against that war: that cavalry and infantry charges would not be effective against heavy artillery and machine guns and that a long trench war, costly in human life, would result. Sadly, the next great war, the Franco-Prussian War which took place in 1870, was a sweeping, speedy victory for Prussia, giving the impression that this was the future of warfare.

Political Legacy

           There are those that still fly the Confederacy flag in the South, and there are usually differing voting trends in Presidential elections in the North and the South, but other than these there are surprisingly few lingering resentments as a result of this long and costly conflict. Perhaps this is because the geography of the United States of America has changed. The USA has expanded by about two-thirds since the American Civil War, and those states which participated only represent the eastern side of the current country. However, inequality between blacks and whites still exists, at least economically, and remains a political issue.


The Civil War: Hostilities

The Road to War

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Civil War History

Reasons for the Conflict:

     In 1860 slavery still existed in the southern states of the USA, even though it had been abolished in most of the rest of the world more than a generation before.

      Many Americans believed that it was time that it be abolished in the USA as well.

      This was the primary issue of the American Civil War, though there were other issues relating to how strong ties should be between individual states and the Federal government.

Key West, Florida, 1861:

      Located where the gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic ocean, Key West was of enormous strategic importance in upholding the blockade against the southern states. It was also used to train new recruits.

the blockade of the South

Acknowledgement
Mrs AH Wilcox of
Barrington Street.
Rochester, N.Y.

originally typed up the diary of
her father, Charles Terry Saxton,
and preserved it for posterity.

Trees of London        A James Wilkinson Publication ©