Civil War Facts - 21 Strange and Interesting Facts
by Brandon Cornett
The Civil War between North and South was a defining moment for the United States. It was also very costly, in terms of human life and material loss. The strange and interesting Civil War facts in this article will give you a better understanding of this era of American history.
21 Interesting Facts
- The American Civil War lasted from 1861 to 1865.
- It is also referred to as the "War Between the States" because it was fought between northern and southern states within the U.S.
- Starting in December of 1860, a number of southern states began to secede (separate) from the Union. Among other things, the southern slave-holding states disagreed with the anti-slavery views of the Union.
- South Carolina was the first state to separate, followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama and several others.
- The southern states eventually formed the Confederate States of America (Confederacy for short). During the Civil War the southern soldiers were referred to as Confederates for this reason.
- The first battle of the American Civil War took place at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. President Lincoln sent ships to resupply the fort there, and the ships were escorted by the U.S. Navy. Confederate troops bombarded the fort before the ships could reach it. Major Robert Anderson (Union officer) surrendered the fort to the Confederates.
- Notable generals of the Confederate Army included Generals Robert E. Lee (overall commanding officer), Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Braxton Bragg and James Longstreet. During the course of the war there were more than 400 generals on the Confederate side.
- Notable generals of the Union Army included Generals Ulysses S. Grant (overall commanding officer), Phil Sheridan, William Tecumseh Sherman, George Armstrong Custer and George McClellan. Throughout the Civil War there were more than 550 Union generals who served.
- General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson got his nickname during the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) in 1861. This is an interesting fact and debate about Civil War history. Some historians say Jackson got the nickname for his courage: "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall." Others like Civil War historian Shelby Foote claim the label was used to cite Jackson's slow action during the battle: "Look at Jackson standing there like a damned stone wall."
- General "Stonewall" Jackson died during the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. He was shot by his own men, who thought he was the enemy.
- More than half of all deaths during the American Civil War were the result of disease (not bullets). The primary culprits included typhoid fever, dysentery, tuberculosis and pneumonia.
- The Confederates typically named battles for the city in which they were fought, or the closest city. The Union forces typically named battles after geographical features such as creeks and rivers. Because of this, many Civil War battles have two names — the battle of Antietam / Sharpsburg, the battle of Manassas / Bull Run, etc.
- During the American Civil War, Union forces used their naval ships to create a blockade of southern ports. Known as the Anaconda Plan, this blockade stretched from the Maryland coast down the eastern seaboard, around Florida, and into the Gulf of Mexico. The goal was to prevent supplies from reaching Confederate troops.
- In terms of casualties, the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) brought the bloodiest day of fighting during the Civil War. On September 17, 1862, Union and Confederate forces fought alongside Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland. In a single day, the battle produced nearly 23,000 casualties (killed or wounded). That's roughly nine times the number of American casualties during D-Day in WWII.
- While the Battle of Antietam marked the single deadliest day during the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg was the deadliest entire battle (over its three-day period). There were more than 50,000 casualties during the course of the battle at Gettysburg.
- During the Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia, it is estimated that nearly 7,000 men died in a span of 20 minutes. These extreme casualties were the result of an ill-advised Union assault on heavily fortified Confederate positions, which quickly became a slaughter. Later, General Ulysses S. Grant would say: "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made."
- Total casualties during the Civil War are equally staggering. Somewhere between 600,000 and 700,000 people died during the war. When you factor in the wounded, the total casualty number rises to around 1,030,000.
- There were numerous prisoner of war (POW) camps on both sides of the conflict. One of the most infamous camps was Andersonville Prison in Georgia. Confederate forces used this facility to hold Union troops captured during battle. Conditions were terrible at Andersonville, owing to the heat, disease, food shortages, etc. More than 12,000 Union soldiers died at Andersonville.
- And now for a strange fact of the Civil War courtesy of Gettysburg. General Dan Sickles (Union) had his right leg amputated during the Battle of Gettysburg after a Confederate cannonball destroyed the leg. Sickles preserved the bones from his right leg, as well as the cannonball that had smashed them, and donated them to the Army Medical Museum. After the war, Sickles worked hard to preserve the Gettysburg battlefield as a national park.
- The Civil War officially ended on April 9, 1865 when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant. The formal surrender ceremony took place in the home of Wilmer and Virginia McLean in the town of Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
- The last man to die in combat was killed more than a month after the surrender ceremony, in a battle at Palmito Ranch in Texas.
I hope you found these facts about the Civil War useful and interesting. By understanding the history of our country, we can learn from it and apply the lessons of the past to the future.
References: Much of this fact sheet was compiled from widely available Civil War information. I also referred to CivilWar.com, which is an excellent source for interesting Civil War facts and data. There are also some inline citations (hyperlinks) within this article.
About the Author
This fact sheet was provided by Brandon Cornett. Brandon is the creator of 21Facts.com. He is also a freelance writer and the author of many articles that can be found all over the Internet.
If you would like to cite this Civil War fact sheet as a reference source for an online article or blog post, simply copy and paste the following HTML code onto your website:
The above code will display like this:
Source: Civil War Facts - 21Facts.com