The U.S. Civil War, also called the War between the States, was waged from April 1861 until April 1865. The war was precipitated by the secession of eleven Southern states during 1860 and 1861 and their formation of the Confederate States of America under President Jefferson Davis. The Southern states had feared that the new president, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, who had been elected in 1860, and Northern politicians would block the expansion of SLAVERY and endanger the existing slaveholding system. Though Lincoln did free Southern slaves during the war by issuing the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, he fought primarily to restore the Union.
The war began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. In the ten weeks between the fall of Fort Sumter and the convening of Congress in July 1861, Lincoln began drafting men for military service, approved a naval blockade of Southern ports, and suspended the writ of HABEAS CORPUS. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Lincoln's authority to take these actions in the Prize cases, 67 U.S. (2 Black) 635, 17 L. Ed. 459; 70 U.S. (3 Wall.) 451, 18 L. Ed. 197; 70 U.S. (3 Wall.) 514, 18 L. Ed. 200; 70 U.S. 559, 18 L. Ed. 220 (1863). The Court concluded that the president had the authority to resist force without the need for special legislative action.
On July 21, 30,000 Union troops marched on Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. They were routed at the Battle of Bull
Map of the continental United States labelled Lines of Secession, 1860?1861.
Run and forced to retreat to Washington, D.C. The defeat shocked Lincoln and Union leaders, who called for 500,000 new troops for the Union Army of the Potomac.
General ULYSSES S. GRANT brought the Union its first victory in February 1862, when his troops captured Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee. Grant fought in the Battles of Shiloh and Corinth, Tennessee, before forcing the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4, 1862.
The Army of the Potomac, however, did not have such success. A Union summer offensive against Confederate forces led by General Robert E. Lee fared badly. Union forces were defeated at the Seven Days Battle and later that summer at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Lee then invaded Maryland but was checked at Antietam on September 17, 1862.
Lincoln despaired at the poor...