The War Between the States, A Brief Summary

The War Between the States was fought from 1861 to 1865 between the Northern and Southern states, of the United States of America. Fighting began April 12, 1861 at Fort Sumter, South Carolina and ended by June of 1865. Officially, through lawful acts of their state governments, 11 Southern states separated themselves from the United States of America to form a new nation, The Confederate States of America. The first state to secede was South Carolina, on December 20, 1860. Former Mississippi Senator and Secretary of War Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as provisional President of the Confederacy on February 18, 1861. Historians refer to the states that did not secede as the Union. Although not on the ballot in most Southern states, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States on November 6, 1860.

The states that formed the Confederacy were Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri are termed border states because they lie on the border between the old Union states and the new Confederacy. Although these states officially remained in the Union, in fact they lent substantial support to the Confederacy through the raising of troops and other means.

The terms yankee and rebel are often applied to those supporting the Union and Confederate causes, respectively. The war is also referred to as The Civil War, The War for Southern Independence, and other names.

After the failure of other Union Generals, Ulysses S. Grant was promoted to overall command of the Union army. General Robert E. Lee commanded the largest field army of the Confederacy. Eventually, the War became a war of attrition, which the Confederacy (with significantly smaller population) was less prepared to handle. Fighting continued until 1865, when most Confederate forces were surrendered in April and May. General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865 at Appomatox, Virginia.

This summary is brief in the extreme, and leaves out many, many details. It is intended to help those unfamiliar with this War or particular period of American history. Our plans include expanding this section of our home page so as to provide more detail, so please come back soon.

General Ulysses S. Grant 2 Flags General Robert E. Lee
General Ulysses S. Grant General Robert E. Lee