"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth... could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years... If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be it's author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."The Civil War was fought in 10,000 places, from Valverde, New Mexico, and Tullahoma, Tennessee, to St. Albans, Vermont, and Fernandina on the Florida coast. More than 3 million Americans fought in it, and over 600,000 men, 2 percent of the population, died in it.
-Abraham Lincoln, 1837
American homes became headquarters. American churches and schoolhouses sheltered the dying, and huge foraging armies swept across American farms, burned American towns. Americans slaughtered one another wholesale, right here in America, in their own cornfields and peach orchards, along familiar roads and by waters with old American names.
In two days at Shiloh, on the banks of the Tennessee River, more American men fell than in all previous wars combined. At Cold Harbor, some 7000 Americans fell in twenty minutes. Men who had never strayed twenty miles from their own front doors now found themselves soldiers in great armies fighting epic battles hundreds of miles from home. They knew they were making history, and it was the greatest adventure of their lives.
The Civil War has been given many names: the War Between the States, the War Against Northern Aggression, the Second American Revolution, the Lost Cause, the War of the Rebellion, the Brother's War, the Late Unpleasantness. Walt Whitman called it the War of Attempted Secession. Confederate General Joseph Johnston called it the War Against the States. By whatever name, it was unquestionably the most important event in the life of the nation. It saw the end of slavery and the downfall of a southern planter aristocracy. It was the watershed of a new political and economic order, and the beginning of big industry, big business, big government. It was the first modern war and, for Americans, the costliest, yielding the most American casualties and the greatest domestic suffering, spiritually and physically. It was the most horrible, necessary, intimate, acrimonious, mean-spirited, and heroic conflict this nation has ever known.
Between 1861 and 1865, Americans made war on each other and killed each other in great numbers, with a ferocity unparalleled at any time before or since, if only to become the kind of country that could no longer conceive how that was possible. What began as a bitter dispute over Union and State's Rights, ended as a struggle over the meaning of freedom in America. At Gettysburg in 1863, Abraham Lincoln said perhaps more than he knew. The war was about a "new birth of freedom."
Having been a Civil War buff for a long time, I've collected here a bunch of links to other Civil War sites, and a lot of files of my own. Email suggestions are encouraged and appreciated.