American Civil War for Kids

American Civil War for Kids

American Civil War

The American Civil War involved bloody battles that had slavery as the base reason.  Pro-slave southern states had built their entire economy on the backs of slaves and had a shared belief that slaves were less than human.

The abolitionists of the northeastern states believed that slavery was wrong and that the country should comply with the Declaration of Independence in the statement “all men are created equal.” The Civil War pitted both belief systems against each other as the southern states left the Union to become the Confederate States, and the Civil War began. Ultimately, over 620,000 lives were lost because of both the battles and diseases from injuries, with 375,000 others that survived with injuries.

The Colonies

It brought the acceptance of slavery to the colonies by the Europeans, where it was an accepted part of life. As the Europeans sent out exploration ships, they had a belief that all natives they met were barbarians.

It is, therefore, not surprising that as the colonies turned into the United States and built much of the economy using slave labor. For the southern states, they feared to lose the profits and lifestyle that they had created. The northern states had developed an economy with little or no slave labor, and they became abolitionists.

The southern states also didn’t think they should have to pay taxes, even though they were receiving benefits from taxes paid by others. Southern states didn’t support the concept of a Federal government that had the power to tell states what they should do under laws that were created.

Laws

There were many actions that led up to the Civil War. Some of the most notable involved rebellions among disparate slave groups that prompted some southern states to enact strict laws for slaves.

These included that slaves could not gather in groups, could not be taught to read and write, and that slave owners had the right to seek and capture escaped slaves no matter where they were. From the 1830s through later 1850s, the tension continued to rise between those that were for and against slavery.

President Abraham Lincoln

When President Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States in 1860, those that supported slavery were fearful that he would get the right of slavery. The state of South Carolina was the first to take action as they seceded from the United States in 1860 after the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

By 1861 the Confederation was created when the additional states of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas seceded. They elected their Jefferson Davis as their President. There were other states that had slavery but didn’t secede, including Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and West Virginia.

Civil War started

The official date when the Civil War started is April 12, 1861. This was based on an attack by the Confederate troops on a Union military location at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

Those that fought for the Union were called “Yankees,” and those that fought for the Confederacy were called “Rebels.” Most times, the Civil War split families apart, and some members joined the Union Army, and others joined the Confederate Army.

American Civil War Bloody Battles

The American Civil War involved bloody battles that had slavery as the base reason.  Pro-slave southern states had built their entire economy on the backs of slaves and had a shared belief that slaves were less than human.

The abolitionists of the northeastern states believed that slavery was wrong and that the country should comply with the Declaration of Independence in the statement “all men are created equal.” The Civil War pitted both belief systems against each other as the southern states left the Union to become the Confederate States, and the Civil War began.

Ultimately, over 620,000 lives were lost because of both the battles and diseases from injuries, with 375,000 others that survived with injuries.

General of the Confederate Army

As the two sides of the Civil War organized, Robert E. Lee became the General of the Confederate Army, and the Union Army General was Ulysses S. Grant. The northern states had a very sophisticated method of sending and receiving supplies and an industry-based economy. The southern states relied solely on a series of ports that led throughout the states and into the harbors. Some of the strategies of the north included cutting off the supply chain to the south so they couldn’t receive everything that they needed to survive.

Communication

The Union also had a very excellent method of communication through the use of the telegraph. These hadn’t expanded into much of the south. The north made use of the railroad system that brought significant supplies and people.

Another little-known fact is that the Union used hot-air balloons in some battles. Soldiers on both sides of the Civil War had the same kinds of weapons: muskets, knives, bayonets, repeating rifles, cannons, ironclads, and swords.

Battles

There were small skirmishes and titanic battles during the Civil War, with loss of life in almost all of them. The most notable of the major battles include:

First and Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of the Ironclads, the Battle of Vicksburg, the Battle of Shiloh, and the Battle of Chancellorsville.

England and France

During this time, both England and France had outlawed slavery, and they were in support of the Union. President Lincoln knew that there were many that were being killed and that the War was ripping the country apart.

President Lincoln made the decision to sign the “Emancipation Proclamation” on January 1, 1863, which freed slaves from the Confederate states. Although some say that since he was only recognized as the President of the Union, he didn’t have the authority to free the slaves, almost 200,000 black soldiers joined the Union Army, and the proclamation kept the southern states from being able to export cotton to France and England.

This action not only reduced the number of slaves in the south but cut off needed income by the southern states.

Gettysburg Address

To bring an end to the War, President Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863. He wanted to unite everyone and remind them we are all part of the same country that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

A second attempt was made on December 8, 1863, in Lincoln’s “Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction.” This gave any Confederates that would support the Constitution and the Union a pardon.

They took an additional step in March 1865 to create an organization called the “Freedmen’s Bureau” to assist slaves that had been freed.

Surrender

General Lee wanted to continue the fight, but when he was cut off from the supplies and found his troops outnumbered, he agreed to surrender.

The terms of the surrender had been talked about between General Grant and President Lincoln and were very generous. On April 9, 1865, Lee and Grant met at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia to sign the terms of surrender.

Reconstruction Era

President Lincoln’s goal was to reunite the southern states and to do so. He created the “Reconstruction Era,” which lasted from 1865 to 1877.

This was rebuilding many of the plantations, infrastructure, and buildings that were destroyed during the fighting. To keep new uprisings from happening, Union soldiers were placed in the various southern states.

They established what is known as the “Ten Percent Plan,” which said that southern states would be readmitted to the Union as long as at least ten percent of their voters were in support of the federal government.

Only five days after the Civil War had ended, President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, who was a Confederate sympathizer.

What did you learn?

What were the three main reasons given for the states seceding from the Union?
Slavery, taxes, Federal government ruling them

What was the first state to secede from the Union?
South Carolina

What were the names of the Confederates and the Union?
Yankees and Rebels

What law promoted the southern states to begin seceding from the Union?
Kansas-Nebraska Act

Which U.S. President was elected that prompted the Southern states to fear the loss of slavery?
President Abraham Lincoln

How many people died because of the Civil War?
620,000

What is the name of the famous speech that President Lincoln wrote to try to bring both sides of the Civil War together?
Gettysburg Address

What Act did President Lincoln put in place that freed all slaves?
The Emancipation Proclamation

What were the names of the two major generals from each side that fought in the Civil War?
General Lee and General Grant

Civil War Music History and Songs
Civil War Music History and Songs
What is the name of the organization that was established to help slaves that had been freed?
Freedman’s Bureau

What advantage did the Union States have over the Confederate states that gave them the supplies that they needed?
Sophisticated shipping, trains, telegraph

What was the name of the requirement that the southern states had to abide by to be readmitted to the Union?
Comply with the Ten Percent Plan