No set guidelines exist on identifying bullets from the U.S. Civil War. The war began before the government standardized military equipment, both Union and Confederate troops used whatever bullets they could get, make or capture from the other side.
Confederate States Army
Union (American Civil War)
The Confederate States Army was the military ground force of the Confederate States of America (the Southern states in rebellion) during the American Civil War. It existed from the formation of the Confederacy in February 1861 to its winding-up in May 1865.
The Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, was an ex-colonel who hoped to build a permanent regular army for his new nation, and support it with provisional volunteer units in wartime. In practice, the regular army never took shape, and its only significance was in the rankings of senior officers. The Civil War was essentially fought by volunteers, and increasingly by conscripts.
The most historic campaigns were conducted by the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee, and the Army of Tennessee under Braxton Bragg and Joseph E. Johnston. Other famous Confederate generals included Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, Richard Ewell, George Pickett, Earl Van Dorn and Jubal Early.
Estimates of total Confederate enlistees vary between 750,000 and 1,000,000, though the size of the army at any given date is virtually impossible to gauge. Those figures do not include the many slaves who were serving in various capacities in the front line, though not allowed in uniform until the last weeks of the war. The casualty list is estimated at 94,000 killed or mortally wounded in battle, 164,000 deaths from disease and between 26,000 and 31,000 deaths in Union prison camps.
United States Presidential election of 1860, the Republican Party, with Abraham Lincoln as its Presidential candidate, campaigned against the expansion of slavery in the United States. The Democratic Party divided over this issue and split into Southern and Northern factions with each fielding a candidate, John C. Breckinridge and Stephen A. Douglas, respectively. A fourth candidate, Senator John Bell of Tennessee, was fielded by the Constitutional Union Party, mostly former Whigs and Know Nothings from the Upper South who favored the status quo. Lincoln won the election without winning the electoral votes in a single southern state. Lincoln did not propose federal laws against slavery where it already existed, but his general view of the matter was stated in his 1858 House Divided Speech, in which he had expressed a desire to "arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction." Lincoln proposed no immediate action against slavery during his campaign or upon his election. Nonetheless, the complex issue of slavery, as well as competing understandings of federalism, party politics, expansionism, sectionalism and social structures, tariffs, economics and general values brought to a head by Lincoln's election stirred violent passions and fears of abolition of slavery in the southern states. These factors soon led to the American Civil War.
Starting with South Carolina on December 20, 1860, seven Deep South states that permitted slavery purported to secede from the Union by February 1861. In addition to South Carolina, these States included Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. President James Buchanan stated that secession was unconstitutional and wrong but that the United States Constitution did not give the President or the United States Congress the power to stop it. By the time Lincoln took office as President on March 4, 1861, the seceding states had formed the Confederate States of America. These states soon began to seize federal property, including most federal forts, within their borders. Lincoln was determined to hold the forts remaining under federal control when he took office, including Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, in furtherance of the overall goal of preserving the union of all the states. He considered secession to be illegal, as did Buchanan, but he also thought it constituted rebellion against the duly constituted government of the United States which he had the authority and the duty to oppose and suppress. By the time Lincoln was sworn in as President, the incompatible positions of the parties were fixed and irreconcilable and the Provisional Confederate Congress had authorized the organization of a large Provisional Army of the Confederate States (PACS). Civil war had become inevitable.
Under orders from Confederate States President Jefferson Davis, troops controlled by the Confederate government under the command of General P. G. T. Beauregard bombarded Fort Sumter on April 12–13, 1861, forcing its capitulation on April 14, 1861 before it could be reinforced and resupplied. Northerners, including Westerners, rallied behind Lincoln's call on April 15, 1861 for all the states to send troops to recapture the forts from the secessionists, to put down the rebellion and to preserve the Union intact. Four states in the upper South (Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina and Virginia) also permitted slavery but previously had rejected overtures to join the Confederacy. These states now refused Lincoln's call to send forces against their neighbor slave states, promptly declared their secession from the United States and joined the Confederate States. After the fall of Fort Sumter and the secession of the Upper South states, both the United States and the Confederate States began in earnest to raise large, mostly volunteer, armies with the objectives of putting down the rebellion and preserving the union, on the one hand, or of establishing independence from the United States, on the other hand.
The Confederate Congress provided for a Confederate Army patterned after the United States Army. It was to consist of a large provisional force to exist only in time of war and a small permanent regular army. The provisional, volunteer army was established by an act of the Confederate Congress passed February 28, 1861, one week before the act which established the permanent regular army organization, passed March 6, 1861. Although the two forces were to exist concurrently, very little was done to organize the Confederate regular army.
Members of all the Confederate States military forces, to include the army, the navy and the marine corps were often referred to as "Confederates", and members of the Confederate States Army were referred to as "Confederate soldiers". Supplementing the Confederate States Army were the various state militias of the Confederate States:
Control and operation of the Confederate States Army was administered by the Confederate States War Department, which was established by the Confederate Provisional Congress in an act on February 21, 1861. The Confederate Congress gave control over military operations, and authority for mustering state forces and volunteers to the President of the Confederate States of America on February 28, 1861, and March 6, 1861. On March 8 the Confederate Congress passed a law that authorized Davis to issue proclamations to call up no more than 100,000 men. The War Department asked for 8,000 volunteers on March 9, 20,000 on April 8, and 49,000 on and after April 16. Davis proposed an army of 100,000 men in his message to Congress on April 29.
On August 8, 1861, the Confederate States, after facing the U.S. took control over rebellious areas, called for 400,000 volunteers to serve for one or three years. By April 1862, the Confederacy passed a conscription act, which drafted men into PACS. The Confederate Congress' successive Conscription Acts broadened the ages of those subject to conscription and even swept in people who had already provided substitutes for service. Challenges to the subsequent acts came before five state supreme courts; all five upheld them.
Perman (2010) says historians are of two minds on why millions of men seemed so eager to fight, suffer and die over four years:
In 1863, there was a wave of religious conversions in the Confederate Army.
Because of the destruction of any central repository of records in Richmond in 1865 and the comparatively poor record-keeping of the time, there can be no definitive number that represents the strength of the Confederate States Army. Estimates range from 500,000 to 2,000,000 men who were involved at any time during the war. Reports from the War Department began at the end of 1861 (326,768 men), 1862 (449,439), 1863 (464,646), 1864 (400,787), and "last reports" (358,692). Estimates of enlistments throughout the war were 1,227,890 to 1,406,180.
The following calls for men were issued:
The CSA was initially a (strategically) defensive army, and many soldiers were resentful when Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia in an invasion of the North in the Antietam Campaign.
The army did not have a formal overall military commander, or general-in-chief, until late in the war. Confederate President Jefferson Davis, himself a former U.S. Army officer and U.S. Secretary of War, served as commander-in-chief and provided the strategic direction for Confederate land and naval forces. The following men had varying degrees of control:
The lack of centralized control was a strategic weakness for the Confederacy, and there are few instances of multiple armies acting in concert across multiple theaters to achieve a common objective. (An exception to this was in late 1862 when Lee's invasion of Maryland was coincident with two other actions: Bragg's invasion of Kentucky and Earl Van Dorn's advance against Corinth, Mississippi. All three initiatives were unsuccessful, however.) Likewise an extreme example of "States Rights" control of CSA soldiers was Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown, who not only reportedly tried to keep Georgia troops from leaving the State of Georgia in 1861 but also tried to keep them from CS Government control when Georgia was invaded in 1864.][
Many of the Confederacy's senior military leaders (including Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, James Longstreet) and even President Jefferson Davis were former U.S. Army and, in smaller numbers, U.S Navy officers who had been opposed to, disapproved of, or were at least unenthusiastic about secession but resigned their U.S. commissions upon hearing that their home states had left the Union. They felt that they had no choice but to help defend their states. President Abraham Lincoln was exasperated to hear of such men who professed to love their country but were willing to fight against it.
As in the Union Army, Confederate soldiers were organized by military specialty. The combat arms included infantry, cavalry and artillery.
The Confederate States Army consisted of several armies. Although fewer soldiers might comprise a squad or platoon, the smallest unit in the Army was a company of 100 soldiers. Ten companies were organized into a regiment, which theoretically had 1,000 men. In reality, as disease and casualties took their toll, most regiments were greatly reduced in strength. Replacements usually went to form new regiments and not often to existing ones. Regiments, which were the basic units of army organization through which soldiers were supplied and deployed, were raised by individual states. They were generally referred by number and state, for example 1st Texas, 12th Virginia. To the extent the word "battalion" was used to described a military unit, it referred to a regiment or a near regimental size unit. Four regiments usually formed a brigade, although as the number of men in many regiments became greatly reduced, especially later in the war, more than four were often assigned to a brigade. Occasionally, regiments would be transferred between brigades. Two to four brigades usually formed a division. Two to four divisions usually formed a corps. Two to four corps usually formed an army. Occasionally, a single corps might operate independently as if it were a small army.
Companies were commanded by captains and had two or more lieutenants. Regiments were commanded by colonels. Lieutenant colonels were second in command. At least one major was next in command. Brigades were commanded by brigadier generals although casualties or other attrition sometimes meant that brigades would be commanded by senior colonels or even a lower grade officer. Barring the same type of circumstances which might leave a lower grade officer in temporary command, divisions were commanded by major generals and corps were commanded by lieutenant generals. A few corps commanders never were confirmed as lieutenant generals and exercised corps command for varying periods of time as major generals. Armies of more than one corps were commanded by (full) generals.
There were four (4) grades of general officer (general, lieutenant general, major general, and brigadier general), but all wore the same insignia regardless of grade. This was a decision made early in the conflict. The Confederate Congress initially made the rank of brigadier general the highest rank. As the war progressed, the other general-officer ranks were quickly added, but no insignia for them was created. (Robert E. Lee was a notable exception to this. He chose to wear the rank insignia of a colonel.) Only seven men achieved the rank of (full) general; the highest ranking (earliest date of rank) was Samuel Cooper, Adjutant General and Inspector General of the Confederate States Army.
Officers' uniforms bore a braid design on the sleeves and kepi, the number of adjacent strips (and therefore the width of the lines of the design) denoting rank. The color of the piping and kepi denoted the military branch. The braid was sometimes left off by officers since it made them conspicuous targets. The kepi was rarely used, the common slouch hat being preferred for its practicality in the Southern climate.
Branch colors were used for color of chevrons. Blue for infantry, yellow for cavalry, and red for artillery. This could differ with some units, however, depending on available resources or the unit commander's desire. Cavalry regiments from Texas, for example, often used red insignia and at least one Texas infantry regiment used black.
The CSA differed from many contemporaneous armies in that all officers under the rank of brigadier general were elected by the soldiers under their command. The Confederate Congress authorized the awarding of medals for courage and good conduct on October 13, 1862, but war time difficulties prevented the procurement of the needed medals. To avoid postponing recognition for their valor, those nominated for the awards had their names placed on a Roll of Honor, which would be read at the first dress parade after its receipt and be published in at least one newspaper in each state.
The CSA was composed of independent armies and military departments that were constituted, renamed, and disbanded as needs arose, particularly in reaction to offensives launched by the Union. These major units were generally named after states or geographic regions (in comparison to the Union's custom of naming armies after rivers). Armies were usually commanded by full generals (there were seven in the CSA) or lieutenant generals. Some of the more important armies and their commanders were:
Some other prominent Confederate generals who led significant units operating sometimes independently in the CSA included Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, James Longstreet, J.E.B. Stuart, Gideon Pillow, and A.P. Hill.
The supply situation for most Confederate Armies was dismal, even when they were victorious on the battlefield. Much like the Continental Army in the American Revolution, individual state governments were expected to supply their soldiers, rather than the central government. The lack of central authority and effective railroads, combined with the frequent unwillingness or inability of Southern state governments to provide adequate funding, were key factors in the Confederate Army's demise.
As a result of these supply problems, as well as the lack of textile factories in the Confederacy and the successful Union naval blockade of Southern ports, the typical Confederate soldier was rarely able to wear the standard regulation uniform, particularly as the war progressed. While on the march or in parade formation, Confederate Armies often displayed a wide array of dress, ranging from faded, patched-together regulation uniforms; rough, homespun uniforms colored with homemade dyes such as butternut (a yellow-brown color), and even soldiers in a hodgepodge of civilian clothing. After a successful battle, it was not unusual for victorious Confederate troops to procure Union Army uniform parts from captured supplies and dead Union soldiers; this would occasionally cause confusion in later battles and skirmishes. The fact that individual states were expected to supply their soldiers also increased the types of uniforms worn by Confederate troops, as some states (such as North Carolina) were able to better supply their soldiers, while other states (such as Texas) were unable for various reasons to adequately supply their troops as the war continued. Furthermore, each state often had its own uniform regulations and insignia, which meant that the "standard" Confederate uniform often featured a variety of differences based on the state the soldier came from. For example, uniforms for North Carolina regiments often featured a colored strip of cloth on their shoulders to designate what part of the service the soldier was in. Confederate soldiers also frequently suffered from inadequate supplies of shoes, tents, and other gear, and would be forced to innovate and make do with whatever they could scrounge from the local countryside. While Confederate officers were generally better-supplied and were normally able to wear a regulation officer's uniform, they often chose to share other hardships – such as the lack of adequate food – with their troops.
Confederate soldiers were also faced with inadequate food rations, especially as the war progressed. By 1863 Confederate generals such as Robert E. Lee often spent as much time and effort searching for food for their men as they did in planning strategy and tactics. Individual commanders often had to "beg, borrow or steal" food and ammunition from whatever sources were available, including captured Union depots and encampments, and private citizens regardless of their loyalties. Lee's campaign against Gettysburg and southern Pennsylvania (a rich agricultural region) was driven in part by his desperate need of supplies, especially food.
Not surprisingly, in addition to slowing the Confederate advance, such foraging aroused anger in the North and led many Northerners to support General Sherman's total warfare tactics as retaliation. Scorched earth policies by the Union Army, especially in Georgia, South Carolina and the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia in 1864, further reduced the capacity of the closely blockaded Confederacy to feed even its civilian population, let alone its Army. At many points during the war, and especially near the end, Confederate Armies were described as starving and, indeed, many died from lack of food and related illnesses. Towards more desperate stages of the war, the lack of food became a principal driving force for desertion.
Native Americans served in both the Union and Confederate military during the American Civil War. Native Americans fought knowing they might jeopardize their freedom, unique cultures, and ancestral lands if they ended up on the losing side of the Civil War. 28,693 Native Americans served in the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, participating in battles such as Pea Ridge, Second Manassas, Antietam, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and in Federal assaults on Petersburg. Many Native American tribes, such as the Creek and the Choctaw, were slaveholders and found a political and economic commonality with the Confederacy.
At the beginning of the war, Albert Pike was appointed as Confederate envoy to Native Americans. In this capacity he negotiated several treaties, one such treaty was the Treaty with Choctaws and Chickasaws conducted in July 1861. The treaty covered sixty-four terms covering many subjects like Choctaw and Chickasaw nation sovereignty, Confederate States of America citizenship possibilities, and an entitled delegate in the House of Representatives of the Confederate States of America. The Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Catawba, and Creek tribes were the only tribes to fight on the Confederate side. The Confederacy wanted to recruit Indians east of the Mississippi River in 1862, so they opened up a recruiting camp in Mobile, Alabama "at the foot of Stone Street." The Mobile Advertiser and Register would advertise for a chance at military service.
Stand Watie, along with a few Cherokee, sided with the Confederate Army, in which he was made colonel and commanded a battalion of Cherokee. Reluctantly, on October 7, 1861, Chief Ross signed a treaty transferring all obligations due to the Cherokee from the U.S. Government to the Confederate States. In the treaty, the Cherokee were guaranteed protection, rations of food, livestock, tools and other goods, as well as a delegate to the Confederate Congress at Richmond. In exchange, the Cherokee would furnish ten companies of mounted men, and allow the construction of military posts and roads within the Cherokee Nation. However, no Indian regiment was to be called on to fight outside Indian Territory. As a result of the Treaty, the 2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles, led by Col. John Drew, was formed. Following the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, March 7–8, 1862, Drew's Mounted Rifles defected to the Union forces in Kansas, where they joined the Indian Home Guard. In the summer of 1862, Federal troops captured Chief Ross, who was paroled and spent the remainder of the war in Washington and Philadelphia proclaiming Cherokee loyalty to the Union army.
William Holland Thomas, the only white chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, recruited hundreds of Cherokees, particularly for Thomas' Legion. The Legion, raised in September 1862, fought until the end of the war.
Choctaw Confederate battalions were formed in Indian Territory and later in Mississippi in support of the southern cause. The Choctaws, who were expecting support from the Confederates, got little. Webb Garrison, a Civil War historian, describes their response: when Confederate Brigadier General Albert Pike authorized the raising of regiments during the fall of 1860, Creeks, Choctaws, and Cherokees responded with considerable enthusiasm. Their zeal for the Confederate cause, however, began to evaporate when they found that neither arms nor pay had been arranged for them. A disgusted officer later acknowledged that "with the exception of a partial supply for the Choctaw regiment, no tents, clothing, or camp and garrison equippage was furnished to any of them."
Mississippi Choctaws were captured in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, and several died in a Union prison in New York. Spann describes the incident, "[Maj. J.W. Pearce] established two camps—a recruiting camp in Newton County and a drill camp at Tangipahoa—just beyond the State boundary line in Louisiana in the fall of 1862. New Orleans at that time was in the hands of the Federal Gen. B.F. Butler. Without notice a reconnoitering party of the enemy raided the camp, and captured over two dozen Indians and several noncommissioned white officers and carried them to New Orleans. All the officers and several of the Indians escaped and returned to the Newton County camp; but all the balance of the captured Indians were carried to New York, and were daily paraded in the public parks as curiosities for the sport of sight-seers.
In Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory, Jackson McCurtain, who would later become a district chief, was elected as representative from Sugar Loaf County to the National Council in October 1859. On June 22, 1861, he enlisted in the First Regiment of Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles. He was commissioned Captain of Company G under the command of Colonel Douglas H. Cooper of the Confederate Army. In 1862 he became a Lieutenant Colonel of the First Choctaw Battalion.
With so many white males conscripted and roughly 40% of its population unfree, the work required to maintain a functioning society in the CSA ended up largely on the backs of slaves. Even Georgia's Governor Joseph E. Brown noted that "the country and the army are mainly dependent upon slave labor for support." Slave labor was used in a wide variety of support roles, from infrastructure and mining, to teamster and medical roles such as hospital attendants and nurses.
The idea of arming slaves for use as soldiers was speculated on from the onset of the war, but not seriously considered by Davis or others in his administration. Though an acrimonious and controversial debate was raised by a letter from Patrick Cleburne urging the Confederacy to raise black soldiers by offering emancipation, it would not be until Robert E. Lee wrote the Confederate Congress urging them that the idea would take serious traction. On March 13, 1865, the Confederate Congress passed General Order 14, and President Davis signed the order into law. The order was issued March 23, but only a few African American companies were raised. A company or two of black hospital workers was attached to a unit in Richmond, Virginia, shortly before the besieged southern capital fell. A Confederate major later affirmed that the small number of soldiers mustered in Richmond in 1865 were "the first and only black troops used on our side." However, there were varying accounts of black rebel troops. For instance the July 11, 1863 issue of the New York Herald reported: "...And after the battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, ...reported among the rebel prisoners were seven blacks in Confederate uniforms fully armed as soldiers..." While determining an accurate number of African Americans who served in the Confederate armed forces may never be known, the United States Census of 1890 lists 3,273 African Americans who claimed to be Confederate veterans
Two or three men from China and two Americans of partial Chinese descent were Confederate soldiers. Author Ruthanne Lum McCunn identifies the two men born in North Carolina as Christopher Wren Bunker and Stephen Decatur Bunker. They were the sons of the slaveholding "Siamese" (actually Chinese) conjoined twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, and their white American wives. These men fought for the Confederacy voluntarily.
One other Chinese soldier was conscripted, and subsequently deserted, and another was underage and appears to have had little choice but to enter the Confederate service. While their stories appear to be genuine, neither of them is found on a Confederate roster or muster roll. John Fouenty, recently freed from a labor contract in Cuba, was on his way home to China when he was conscripted by the CSA in Savannah, Georgia. He deserted when near Union lines and continued his journey home. Marshall Tsao, or Cao Zishi (also identified as having taken the name Charles K. Marshall), an underage student and servant, accompanied his master, Dr. David C. Kelley, into service with the Tennessee cavalry. He survived, became a Methodist minister, returned to China and had later medical training. However, rosters of Tennessee cavalry units in the Confederate Army do not contain the name of Charles K. Marshall or any of the Chinese variations of his name so his role with the army, if any, other than as a servant of or assistant to Kelley, is unclear.
Although McCunn states "only five [Chinese] are known to have fought for the Confederacy," she does not identify (or clearly identify) the fifth. A possible fifth Chinese Confederate soldier other than Thomas Sylvanus who is mentioned in the previous footnote, William H. Kwan, Company B, 12th Virginia Battalion of Light Artillery, has been listed in two sources as Chinese but without any information that would show his ethnicity or background or service record. One of the sources even has a question mark after the identification of Chinese (and lists his unit as 15th Virginia Battalion of Light Artillery).
Another possible Chinese born Confederate, Charles Chon, was said to have been buried at a Confederate cemetery near Nashville, Tennessee. Chon apparently enlisted in the Southern military while living in Texas, although it has been disputed as to whether or not he joined the cavalry or infantry. No accounts of his service during the war have yet been uncovered.
Diaries of a Florida soldier and a Louisiana soldier have been cited as containing assertions that at least one Chinese soldier was in each of these Confederate soldiers' companies, but the diaries give no names or other details about them. A researcher identified 18 "Chinese-sounding" names on Confederate Army rosters but she cited no information that confirms the ethnicity or country of origin of any of them or anything about their background or service.
Incomplete and destroyed records make an accurate count of the number of individuals who served in the Confederate Army impossible. All but extremely improbable estimates of this number range between 600,000 and 1,500,000 men. The better estimates of the actual number of individual Confederates soldiers seem to be between 750,000 and 1,000,000 men. The exact number is unknown. Since these figures include estimates of the total number of individual soldiers who served in each army at any time during the war, they do not represent the size of the armies at any given date. Confederate casualty figures are as incomplete and unreliable as the figures on the number of Confederate soldiers. The best estimates of the number of deaths of Confederate soldiers appear to be about 94,000 killed or mortally wounded in battle, 164,000 deaths from disease and between 26,000 and 31,000 deaths in Union prison camps. One estimate of Confederate wounded, which is considered incomplete, is 194,026. At the end of the war 174,223 men of the Confederate forces surrendered to the Union Army.
During the American Civil War, the Union was the term used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the 20 free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the Confederacy. The Union has often been referred to as "the North", both then and now. The Union never recognized the legitimacy of secession and at all times held that it comprised the entire United States of America. In foreign affairs it was recognized by all other nations, none of which officially recognized the Confederate government.
The term originated in the Perpetual Union of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The Constitution of 1787 opens with, "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union...do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." Even before the war started, the phrase "preserve the Union" was commonplace and a "union of states" had been used to refer to the entire United States. Using the term "Union" to apply to the non-secessionist side carried a connotation of legitimacy as the continuation of the pre-existing political entity.
In comparison to the Confederacy, the Union was heavily industrialized and far more urbanized than the rural South. The Union states had nearly five times the white population of the Confederate states (23 million to 5 million). The Union's great advantages in population and industry would prove to be vital long-term factors in its victory over the Confederacy.
Lincoln, an ungainly giant, did not look the part of a president, but historians have overwhelmingly praised the "political genius" of his performance in the role. His first priority was military victory, and that required that he master entirely new skills as a master strategist and diplomat. He supervised not only the supplies and finances, but as well the manpower, the selection of generals, and the course of overall strategy. Working closely with state and local politicians he rallied public opinion and (at Gettysburg) articulated a national mission that has defined America ever since. Lincoln's charm and willingness to cooperate with political and personal enemies made Washington work much more smoothly than Richmond. His wit smoothed many rough edges. Lincoln's cabinet proved much stronger and more efficient than Davis's, as Lincoln channeled personal rivalries into a competition for excellence rather than mutual destruction. With William Seward at State, Salmon P. Chase at the Treasury, and (from 1862) Edwin Stanton at the War Department, Lincoln had a powerful cabinet of determined men; except for monitoring major appointments, Lincoln gave them full rein to destroy the Confederacy.
The Republican Congress passed many major laws that reshaped the nation's economy, financial system, tax system, land system, and higher education system, including the Morrill tariff, the Homestead Act, the Pacific Railroad Act, and the National Banking Act. Lincoln paid relatively little attention to this legislation as he focused on war issues, but he worked smoothly with powerful Congressional leaders such as Thaddeus Stevens (on taxation and spending), Charles Sumner (on foreign affairs), Lyman Trumbull (on legal issues), Justin Smith Morrill (on land grants and tariffs) and William Pitt Fessenden (on finances).
Military and Reconstruction issues were another matter, and Lincoln as the leader of the moderate and conservative factions of the Republican Party often crossed swords with the Radical Republicans, led by Stevens and Sumner. Tap shows that Congress challenged Lincoln's role as commander-in-chief through the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. It was a joint committee of both houses that was dominated by Radicals who took a hard line against the Confederacy. During the 37th and 38th Congresses, it investigated every aspect of Union military operations, with special attention to finding the men guilty of military defeats. They assumed an inevitable Union victory, and failure seemed to them to indicate evil motivations or personal failures. They were skeptical of military science and especially the graduates of the US Military Academy at West Point, many of alumni of which were leaders of the enemy army. They much preferred political generals with a known political record. Some committee suggested that West Pointers who engaged in strategic maneuver were cowardly or even disloyal. It ended up endorsing incompetent but politically correct generals.
The opposition came from Copperheads, who were Southern sympathizers in the Midwest. Irish Catholics after 1862 opposed the war, and rioted in the New York Draft Riots of 1863. The Democratic Party was deeply split. In 1861 most Democrats supported the war, but with the growth of the Copperhead movement, the party increasingly split down the middle. It scored major gains in the 1862 elections, including the election of moderate Horatio Seymour as governor of New York. They gained 28 seats in the House, but remained a minority. Indiana was especially hard-fought, but when the Democrats gained control of the legislature in the 1862 election they were unable to impede the war effort, which was controlled by governor Oliver P. Morton with federal help.
The Democrats nominated George McClellan a War Democrat in 1864 but gave him an anti-war platform. In terms of Congress the opposition was nearly powerless—and indeed in most states. In Indiana and Illinois pro-war governors circumvented anti-war legislatures elected in 1862. For 30 years after the war the Democrats carried the burden of having opposed the martyred Lincoln, the salvation of the Union and the destruction of slavery.
The Copperheads were a large faction of northern Democrats who opposed the war, demanding an immediate peace settlement. The said they wanted to restore "the Union as it was" (that is, with the South and with slavery), but they realized that the Confederacy would never voluntarily rejoin the U.S. The most prominent Copperhead was Ohio's Clement L. Vallandigham, a Congressman and leader of the Democratic Party in Ohio. He was defeated in an intense election for governor in 1863. In Republican prosecutors in the Midwest accused some Copperhead activists of treason in a series of trials in 1864.
Copperheadism was a grassroots movement, strongest in the area just north of the Ohio River, as well as some urban ethnic wards. Some historians have argued that it represented a traditionalistic element alarmed at the rapid modernization of society sponsored by the Republican Party. It looked back to Jacksonian Democracy for inspiration. Weber (2006) argues that the Copperheads damaged the Union war effort by fighting the draft, encouraging desertion, and forming conspiracies. However other historians say the Copperheads were a legitimate opposition force unfairly treated by the government, adding that the draft was in disrepute and that the Republicans greatly exaggerated the conspiracies for partisan reasons. Copperheadism was a major issue in the 1864 presidential election; its strength waxed when Union armies were doing poorly, and waned when they won great victories. After the fall of Atlanta in September 1864 military success seemed assured, and Copperheadism collapsed.
There was no shortage of enthusiasm as young men clamored to join the army in 1861. That was where the excitement was, and they were all volunteers. The decision was made to keep the small regular army intact; its officers could however join the temporary new volunteer army that was formed, expecting their experience would lead to rapid promotions. The problem with volunteering was a serious lack of planning, leadership and organization at the highest levels. Washington called on the states for troops and every northern governor set about raising and equipping regiments, with the bills sent to the War Department. The men could elect the junior officers, while the governor appointed the senior officers, and Lincoln appointed the generals. Typically politicians used their local organizations to raise troops, and were in line (if healthy enough) to become colonel. The problem was that the War Department, under the disorganized leadership of Simon Cameron also authorized local and private groups to raise regiments. The result was widespread confusion and delay.
Pennsylvania for example had acute problems. When Washington called for ten more regiments, enough men volunteered to form thirty. However they were scattered among seventy different new units, none of which was a complete regiment. Not until Washington approved gubernatorial control of all new units was the problem resolved. Allan Nevins is particularly scathing in his analysis: "A President more exact, systematic and vigilant than Lincoln, a Secretary more alert and clearheaded than Cameron, would have prevented these difficulties."
By the end of 1861 700,000 soldiers were drilling in Union camps. The first wave in spring was called up for only 90 days, then went home or reenlisted. Later waves enlisted for three years. They spent their time drilling. The combat in the first year, though strategically important, involved relatively small forces and few casualties. Sickness was a much more serious cause of hospitalization or death. In the first few months men wore low quality uniforms made of "shoddy" but by fall sturdy wool uniforms—in blue—were standard. The nation's factories were converted to produce the rifles, cannon, wagons, tents, telegraph sets and the myriad other special items the army needed. While business had been slow or depressed in spring 1861 because of war fears and Southern boycotts, by fall business was hiring again, offering young men jobs that were an alternative way to help win the war. Nonpartisanship was the rule in the first year, but by summer 1862 many Democrats had stopped supporting the war effort and volunteering fell off sharply in their strongholds. The calls for more and more soldiers continued, so states and localities responded by offering cash bonuses. By 1863 a draft law was in effect, but few men actually were drafted and served, since it was designed to get them to volunteer or hire a substitute. Others hid away or left the country. With the Emancipation proclamation taking effect in January 1863, localities could meet their draft quota by sponsoring regiments of ex-slaves organized in the South.
Michigan actively participated in the American Civil War sending thousands of volunteers. A study of the cities of Grand Rapids and Niles shows an overwhelming surge of nationalism in 1861, whipping up enthusiasm for the war in all segments of society, and all political, religious, ethnic, and occupational groups. However by 1862 the casualties were mounting and the war was increasingly focused on freeing the slaves in addition to preserving the Union. Copperhead Democrats called the war a failure, and it became more and more a partisan Republican effort. Michigan voters in remained evenly split between the parties in the presidential election of 1864.
Perman (2010) says historians are of two minds on why millions of men seemed so eager to fight, suffer and die over four years:
More soldiers died of disease than in battle, and even larger numbers were temporarily incapacitated by wounds, disease and accidents. The Union responded by building army hospitals in every state. The hygiene of the camps was poor, especially at the beginning of the war when men who had seldom been far from home were brought together for training with thousands of strangers. First came epidemics of the childhood diseases of chicken pox, mumps, whooping cough, and, especially, measles. Operations in the South meant a dangerous and new disease environment, bringing diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid fever, and malaria. There were no antibiotics, so the surgeons prescribed coffee, whiskey, and quinine. Harsh weather; bad water; inadequate shelter in winter quarters; poor policing of camps; and dirty camp hospitals took their toll. This was a common scenario in wars from time immemorial, and conditions faced by the Confederate army were even worse. What was different in the Union was the emergence of skilled, well-funded medical organizers who rook proactive action, especially in the much enlarged United States Army Medical Department, and the United States Sanitary Commission, a new private agency. Numerous other new agencies also targeted the medical and morale needs of soldiers, including the United States Christian Commission as well as smaller private agencies such as the Women's Central Association of Relief for Sick and Wounded in the Army (WCAR) founded in 1861 by Henry Whitney Bellows, a Unitarian minister, and social reformer Dorothea Dix. Systematic funding appeals raised public consciousness, as well as millions of dollars. Many thousands of volunteers worked in the hospitals and rest homes, most famously poet Walt Whitman. Frederick Law Olmstead, a famous landscape architect, was the highly efficient executive director of the Sanitary Commission.
States could use their own tax money to support their troops as Ohio did. Under the energetic leadership of Governor David Tod, a War Democrat who won office on a coalition "Union Party" ticket with Republicans, Ohio acted vigorously. Following the unexpected carnage at the battle of Shiloh in April 1862, it send 3 steamboats to the scene as floating hospitals with doctors, nurses and medical supplies. The state fleet expanded to eleven hospital ships. The state also set up 12 local offices in main transportation nodes to help Ohio soldiers moving back and forth.
The Christian Commission comprised 6000 volunteers who aided chaplains in many ways. For example, its agents distributed Bibles, delivered sermons, helped with letters home, taught men to read and write, and set up camp libraries.
The Army learned many lessons and in 1886, it established the Hospital Corps. In the long run the wartime experiences of the numerous commissions modernized public welfare, and set the stage for large—scale community philanthropy in America based on fund raising campaigns and private donations. Women gained new public roles. For example, Mary Livermore (1820-1905). the manager of the Chicago branch of the US Sanitary Commission, used her newfound organizational skills to mobilize support for women's suffrage after the war. She argued that women needed more education and job opportunities to help them fulfill their role of serving others. The Sanitary Commission collected enormous amounts of statistical data, and opened up the problems of storing information for fast access and mechanically searching for data patterns. The pioneer was John Shaw Billings (1838-1913). A senior surgeon in the war, Billings built two of the world's most important libraries, Library of the Surgeon General's Office (now the National Library of Medicine and the New York Public Library; he also figured out how to mechanically analyze data by turning it into numbers and punching onto the computer punch card as developed by his student Herman Hollerith.
Discontent with the 1863 draft law led to riots in several cities and in rural areas as well, By far the most important were the New York City draft riots of July 13 to July 16, 1863. Irish Catholic and other workers fought police, militia and regular army units until the Army used artillery to sweep the streets. Initially focused on the draft, the protests quickly expanded into violent attacks on blacks in New York City, with many killed on the streets.
Small-scale riots broke out in ethnic German and Irish districts, and in areas along the Ohio River with many Copperheads. Holmes County, Ohio was an isolated parochial areas dominated by Pennsylvania Dutch and some recent German immigrants. It was a Democratic stronghold and few men dared speak out in favor of conscription. Local politicians denounced Lincoln and Congress as despotic, seeing the draft law as a violation of their local autonomy. In June 1863, small scale disturbance broke out; they ended when the Army sent in armed units.
The Union economy grew and prospered during the war while fielding a very large army and navy. The Republicans in Washington had a Whiggish vision of an industrial nation, with great cities, efficient factories, productive farms, national banks, and high speed rail links. The South had resisted policies such as tariffs to promote industry and homestead laws to promote farming because slavery would not benefit; with the South gone, and Northern Democrats very weak in Congress, the Republicans enacted their legislation. At the same time they passed new taxes to pay for part of the war, and issued large amounts of bonds to pay for the most of the rest. (The remainder can be charged to inflation.) They wrote an elaborate program of economic modernization that had the dual purpose of winning the war and permanently transforming the economy.
In 1860 the Treasury was a small operation that funded the small-scale operations of the government through the low tariff and land sales. Revenues were trivial in comparison with the cost of a full-scale war, but the Treasury Department under Secretary Salmon P. Chase showed unusual ingenuity in financing the war without crippling the economy. Many new taxes were imposed, and always with a patriotic theme comparing the financial sacrifice to the sacrifices of life and limb. The government paid for supplies in real money, which encouraged people to sell to the government regardless of their politics. By contrast the Confederacy gave paper promissory notes when it seized property, so that even loyal Confederates would hide their horses and mules rather than sell them for dubious paper. Overall the Northern financial system was highly successful in raising money and turning patriotism into profit, while the Confederate system impoverished its patriots.
The United States needed $3.1 billion to pay for the immense armies and fleets raised to fight the Civil War — over $400 million just in 1862. Apart from tariffs, the largest new tax revenue by far came from new excise taxes—a sort of value added tax—that was imposed on every sort of manufactured item. Second came much higher tariffs, through several Morrill tariff laws. Third came the nation's first income tax; only the wealthy paid and it was repealed at war's end.
Apart from taxes, the second major source was government bonds. For the first time bonds in small denominations were sold directly to the people, with publicity and patriotism as key factors, as designed by banker Jay Cooke. State banks lost their power to issue banknotes. Only national banks could do that, and Chase made it easy to become a national bank; it involved buying and holding federal bonds and financiers rushed to open these banks. Chase numbered them, so that the first one in each city was the "First National Bank." Fourth the government printed "greenbacks"—paper money—which led to endless controversy because they caused inflation.
The North's most important war measure was perhaps the creation of a system of national banks that provided a sound currency for the industrial expansion. Even more important, the hundreds of new banks that were allowed to open were required to purchase government bonds. Thereby the nation monetized the potential wealth represented by farms, urban buildings, factories, and businesses, and immediately turned that money over to the Treasury for war needs.
Secretary Chase, though a long-time free-trader, worked with Morrill to pass a second tariff bill in summer 1861, raising rates another 10 points in order to generate more revenues. These subsequent bills were primarily revenue driven to meet the war's needs, though they enjoyed the support of protectionists such as Carey, who again assisted Morrill in the bill's drafting. The Morrill Tariff of 1861 was designed to raise revenue. The tariff act of 1862 served not only to raise revenue, but also to encourage the establishment of factories free from British competition by taxing British imports. Furthermore, it protected American factory workers from low paid European workers, and as a major bonus attracted tens of thousands of those Europeans to immigrate to America for high wage factory and craftsman jobs.
Customs revenue from tariffs totaled $345 million from 1861 through 1865, or 43% of all federal tax revenue.
The U.S. government owned vast amounts of good land (mostly from the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 and the Oregon Treaty with Britain in 1846). The challenge was to make the land useful to people and to provide the economic basis for the wealth that would pay off the war debt. Land grants went to railroad construction companies to open up the western plains and link up to California. Together with the free lands provided farmers by the Homestead Law the low-cost farm lands provided by the land grants sped up the expansion of commercial agriculture.
The 1862 Homestead Act opened up the public domain lands for free. Land grants to the railroads meant they could sell tracts for family farms (80 to 200 acres) at low prices with extended credit. In addition the government sponsored fresh information, scientific methods and the latest techniques through the newly established Department of Agriculture and the Morrill Land Grant College Act.
Agriculture was the largest single industry and it prospered during the war. Prices were high, pulled up by a strong demand from the army and from Britain (which depended on American wheat for a fourth of its food imports.) The war acted as a catalyst which encouraged the rapid adoption of horse-drawn machinery and other implements. The rapid spread of recent inventions such as the reaper and mower made the work force efficient, even as hundreds of thousands of farmers were in the army. Many wives took their place, and often consulted by mail on what to do; increasingly they relied on community and extended kin for advice and help.
The Union used hundreds of thousands of animals. The Army had plenty of cash to purchase them from farmers and breeders, but especially in the early months the quality was mixed. Horses were needed for cavalry and artillery. Mules pulled the wagons. The supply held up, despite an unprecedented epidemic of glanders, a fatal disease that baffled veterinarians. In the South, the Union army shot all the horses it did not need to keep them out of Confederate hands.
The Treasury started buying cotton during the war, for shipment to Europe and northern mills. The sellers were Southern planters who needed the cash, regardless of their patriotism. The Northern buyers could make heavy profits, which annoyed soldiers like Ulysses Grant. He blamed Jewish traders and expelled them from his lines in 1862, but Lincoln quickly overruled this show of anti-semitism. Critics said the cotton trade helped the South, prolonged the war and fostered corruption. Washington decided to continue the trade for fear that Britain might intervene if its textile manufacturers were denied raw material. Another goal was to foster latent Unionism in Southern border states. Northern textile manufacturers needed cotton to remain in business and to make uniforms, while cotton exports to Europe provided an important source of gold to finance the war.
Many Northerners had only recently become religious (following the Second Great Awakening) and religion was a powerful force in their lives. No denomination was more active in supporting the Union than the Methodist Episcopal Church. Carwardine argues that for many Methodists, the victory of Lincoln in 1860 heralded the arrival of the kingdom of God in America. They were moved into action by a vision of freedom for slaves, freedom from the persecutions of godly abolitionists, release from the Slave Power's evil grip on the American government, and the promise of a new direction for the Union. Methodists formed a major element of the popular support for the Radical Republicans with their hard line toward the white South. Dissident Methodists left the church. During Reconstruction the Methodists took the lead in helping form Methodist churches for Freedmen, and moving into Southern cities even to the point of taking control, with Army help, of buildings that had belonged to the southern branch of the church.
The Methodist family magazine Ladies' Repository promoted Christian family activism. Its articles provided moral uplift to women and children. It portrayed the War as a great moral crusade against a decadent Southern civilization corrupted by slavery. It recommended activities that family members could perform in order to aid the Union cause.
Frank reports that what it meant to be a father varied with status and age, but most men demonstrated dual commitments as providers and nurturers and believed that husband and wife had mutual obligations toward their children. The war privileged masculinity, dramatizing and exaggerating, father-son bonds. Especially at five critical stages in the soldier's career (enlistment, blooding, mustering out, wounding, and death) letters from absent fathers articulated a distinctive set of 19th-century ideals of manliness.
There were numerous children's magazines such as Merry's Museum, The Student and Schoolmate, Our Young Folks, The Little Pilgrim, Forrester's Playmate, and The Little Corporal. They showed a Protestant religious tone and "promoted the principles of hard work, obedience, generosity, humility, and piety; trumpeted the benefits of family cohesion; and furnished mild adventure stories, innocent entertainment, and instruction." Their pages featured factual information and anecdotes about the war along with related quizzes, games, poems and songs, short oratorical pieces for "declamation," short stories, and very short plays that children could stage. They promoted patriotism and the Union war aims, fostered kindly attitudes toward freed slaves, blackened the Confederates cause, encouraged readers to raise money for war-related humanitarian funds, and dealt with the death of family members. By 1866, the Milton Bradley Company was selling "The Myriopticon: A Historical Panorama of the Rebellion" that allowed children to stage a neighborhood show that would explain the war. It comprised colorful drawings that were turned on wheels and included pre-printed tickets, poster advertisements, and narration that could be read aloud at the show.
Caring for war orphans was an important function for local organizations as well as state and local government. A typical state was Iowa, where the private "Iowa Soldiers Orphans Home Association" operated with funding from the legislature and public donations. It set up orphanages in Davenport, Glenwood and Cedar Falls. The state government funded pensions for the widows and children of soldiers.
All the northern states had free public school systems before the war, but not the border states. West Virginia set up its system in 1863. Over bitter opposition it established an almost-equal education for black children, most of whom were ex-slaves. Thousands of black refugees poured into St. Louis, where the Freedmen's Relief Society, the Ladies Union Aid Society, the Western Sanitary Commission, and the American Missionary Association (AMA) set up schools for their children.
People loyal to the federal government and opposed to secession living in the border states (where slavery was legal in 1861)were termed Unionists. Confederates sometimes styled them "Homemade Yankees". However, Southern Unionists were not necessarily northern sympathizers and many of them – although opposing secession – supported the Confederacy once it was a fact. East Tennessee never supported the Confederacy, and Unionists there became powerful state leaders, including governors Andrew Johnson and William G. Brownlow. Likewise, large pockets of eastern Kentucky were Unionist and helped keep the state from seceding. Western Virginia, with few slaves and some industry, was so strongly Unionist that it broke away and formed the new state of West Virginia.
Still, nearly 120,000 Southern Unionists served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and Unionist regiments were raised in every Southern state. Southern Unionists were extensively used as anti-guerrilla paramilitary forces. During Reconstruction many Unionists in the ex-Confederacy became Scalawags who supported the Republican Party.
Besides organized military conflict, the border states were beset by guerrilla warfare. In such a bitterly divided state, neighbors frequently used the excuse of war to settle personal grudges and took up arms against neighbors.
Missouri was the scene of over 1000 engagements between Union and Confederate forces, and uncounted numbers of guerrilla attacks and raids by informal pro-Confederate bands. Western Missouri was the scene of brutal guerrilla warfare during the Civil War. Roving insurgent bands such as Quantrill's Raiders and the men of Bloody Bill Anderson terrorized the countryside, striking both military installations and civilian settlements. Because of the widespread attacks and the protection offered by Confederate sympathizers, Federal leaders issued General Order No. 11 in 1863, and evacuated areas of Jackson, Cass, and Bates counties. They forced the residents out to reduce support for the guerrillas. Union cavalry could sweep through and track down Confederate guerrillas, who no longer had places to hide and people and infrastructure to support them. On short notice, the army forced almost 20,000 people, mostly women, children, and the elderly, to leave their homes. Many never returned, and the affected counties were economically devastated for years after the end of the war. Families passed along stories of their bitter experiences down through several generations--Harry Truman's grandparents were caught up in the raids and he tells how they were kept in concentration camps.
Some marauding units became organized criminal gangs after the war. In 1882, the bank robber and ex-Confederate guerrilla Jesse James was killed in Saint Joseph. Vigilante groups appeared in remote areas where law enforcement was weak, to deal with the lawlessness left over from the guerrilla warfare phase. For example, the Bald Knobbers were the term for several law-and-order vigilante groups in the Ozarks. In some cases, they too turned to illegal gang activity.
In response to the growing problem of locally organized guerrilla campaigns throughout 1863 and 1864, in June 1864, Maj. Gen. Stephen G. Burbridge was given command over the state of Kentucky. This began an extended period of military control that would last through early 1865, beginning with martial law authorized by President Abraham Lincoln. To pacify Kentucky, Burbridge rigorously suppressed disloyalty and used economic pressure as coercion. His guerrilla policy, which included public execution of four guerrillas for the death of each unarmed Union citizen, caused the most controversy. After a falling out with Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, Burbridge was dismissed in February 1865. Confederates remembered him as the "Butcher of Kentucky".
The Union states (all with their separate articles, and some cities):
* Border states with slavery in 1861: In Kentucky and Missouri, pro-secession "governments" declared for the South but never had significant control of the states.
West Virginia separated from Virginia and became part of the Union during the war, on June 20, 1863. Nevada also joined the Union during the war, becoming a state on October 31, 1864.
The Union controlled territories in April, 1861 were:
The Indian Territory saw its own civil war, as the major tribes held slaves and endorsed the Confederacy.
The Union blockade took place during the American Civil War, when the Union Navy maintained a strenuous effort on the Atlantic and Gulf Coast of the Confederate States of America designed to prevent the passage of trade goods, supplies, and arms to and from the Confederacy. Ships that tried to evade the blockade, known as blockade runners, were mostly newly built with narrow hulls and a shallow draft with a smaller cargo capacity, giving them markedly higher speeds which allowed them to out maneuver or simply outrun Union ships on blockade patrol. They were largely operated by the British (using Royal Navy officers on leave) and ran between Confederate-controlled ports and the neutral ports of Havana, Cuba; Nassau, Bahamas, and Bermuda, where British suppliers had set up supply bases.
President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the blockade on April 19, 1861. His strategy, part of General Winfield Scott's Anaconda Plan, required the closure of 3,500 miles (5,600 km) of Confederate coastline and twelve major ports, including New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mobile, Alabama, the top two cotton-exporting ports prior to the outbreak of the war, as well as the Atlantic ports of Richmond, Virginia, Charleston, South Carolina, Savannah, Georgia, and Wilmington, North Carolina. To this end, the Union commissioned 500 ships, which destroyed or captured about 1,500 blockade runners over the course of the war; nonetheless, five out of six attempts to evade the blockade were successful. However the blockade runners carried only a small fraction of the usual cargo.
On April 19, 1861, President Lincoln issued a Proclamation of Blockade Against Southern Ports:
Whereas an insurrection against the Government of the United States has broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and the laws of the United States for the collection of the revenue cannot be effectually executed therein comformably to that provision of the Constitution which requires duties to be uniform throughout the United States:
And whereas a combination of persons engaged in such insurrection, have threatened to grant pretended letters of marque to authorize the bearers thereof to commit assaults on the lives, vessels, and property of good citizens of the country lawfully engaged in commerce on the high seas, and in waters of the United States: And whereas an Executive Proclamation has been already issued, requiring the persons engaged in these disorderly proceedings to desist therefrom, calling out a militia force for the purpose of repressing the same, and convening Congress in extraordinary session, to deliberate and determine thereon:
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, with a view to the same purposes before mentioned, and to the protection of the public peace, and the lives and property of quiet and orderly citizens pursuing their lawful occupations, until Congress shall have assembled and deliberated on the said unlawful proceedings, or until the same shall ceased, have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of the United States, and of the law of Nations, in such case provided. For this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid. If, therefore, with a view to violate such blockade, a vessel shall approach, or shall attempt to leave either of the said ports, she will be duly warned by the Commander of one of the blockading vessels, who will endorse on her register the fact and date of such warning, and if the same vessel shall again attempt to enter or leave the blockaded port, she will be captured and sent to the nearest convenient port, for such proceedings against her and her cargo as prize, as may be deemed advisable.
And I hereby proclaim and declare that if any person, under the pretended authority of the said States, or under any other pretense, shall molest a vessel of the United States, or the persons or cargo on board of her, such person will be held amenable to the laws of the United States for the prevention and punishment of piracy.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this nineteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.
In his Memoirs of Service Afloat, Raphael Semmes contended that the announcement of a blockade carried de facto recognition of the Confederate States of America as an independent national entity since countries do not blockade their own ports but rather close them. Under international law and maritime law, however, nations had the right to stop and search neutral ships in international waters if they were suspected of violating a blockade, something port closures would not allow. In an effort to avoid conflict between the United States and Britain over the searching of British merchant vessels thought to be trading with the Confederacy, the Union needed the privileges of international law that came with the declaration of a blockade.
However, by effectively declaring the Confederate States of America to be belligerents—rather than insurrectionists, who under international law would not be legally eligible for recognition by foreign powers—Lincoln opened the way for European powers such as Britain and France to recognize the Confederacy. Britain's proclamation of neutrality was consistent with the position of the Lincoln Administration under international law—the Confederates were belligerents—giving them the right to obtain loans and buy arms from neutral powers, and giving the British the formal right to discuss openly which side, if any, to support.
A joint Union military-navy commission, known as the Blockade Strategy Board, was formed to develop plans for seizing key Southern ports to utilize as Union bases of operations to expand the blockade. It first met in June 1861 in Washington, D.C., under the leadership of Captain Samuel F. Du Pont.
In the initial phase of the blockade, Union forces concentrated on the Atlantic Coast. The November 1861 capture of Port Royal in South Carolina provided the Federals with an open ocean port and repair and maintenance facilities in good operating condition. It became an early base of operations for further expansion of the blockade along the Atlantic coastline, including the Stone Fleet. Apalachicola, Florida, received Confederate goods traveling down the Chattahoochee River from Columbus, Georgia, and was an early target of Union blockade efforts on Florida's Gulf Coast. Another early prize was Ship Island, which gave the Navy a base from which to patrol the entrances to both the Mississippi River and Mobile Bay. The Navy gradually extended its reach throughout the Gulf of Mexico to the Texas coastline, including Galveston and Sabine Pass.
With 3,500 miles of Confederate coastline and 180 possible ports of entry to patrol, the blockade would be the largest such effort ever attempted. The United States Navy had 42 ships in active service, and another 48 laid up and listed as available as soon as crews could be assembled and trained. Half were sailing ships, some were technologically outdated, most were at the time patrolling distant oceans, one served on Lake Erie and could not be moved into the ocean, and another had gone missing off Hawaii. At the time of the declaration of the blockade, the Union only had three ships suitable for blockade duty. The Navy Department, under the leadership of Navy Secretary Gideon Welles, quickly moved to expand the fleet. U.S. warships patrolling abroad were recalled, a massive shipbuilding program was launched, civilian merchant and passenger ships were purchased for naval service, and captured blockade runners were commissioned into the navy. In 1861, nearly 80 steamers and 60 sailing ships were added to the fleet, and the number of blockading vessels rose to 160. Some 52 more warships were under construction by the end of the year. By November 1862, there were 282 steamers and 102 sailing ships. By the end of the war, the Union Navy had grown to a size of 671 ships, making it the largest navy in the world.
By the end of 1861, the Navy had grown to 24,000 officers and enlisted men, over 15,000 more than in antebellum service. Four squadrons of ships were deployed, two in the Atlantic and two in the Gulf of Mexico.
Blockade service was attractive to Federal seamen and landsmen alike. Blockade station service was considered the most boring job in the war but also the most attractive in terms of potential financial gain. The task was for the fleet to sail back and forth to intercept any blockade runners. More than 50,000 men volunteered for the boring duty, because food and living conditions on ship were much better than the infantry offered, the work was safer, and especially because of the real (albeit small) chance for big money. Captured ships and their cargoes were sold at auction and the proceeds split among the sailors. When the USS Aeolus seized the hapless blockade runner Hope off Wilmington, North Carolina, in late 1864, the captain won $13,000 ($190,823 today), the chief engineer $6,700, the seamen more than $1,000 each, and the cabin boy $533, rather better than infantry pay of $13 ($191 today) per month. The amount garnered for blockade runners widely varied. While the little Alligator sold for only $50, bagging the Memphis brought in $510,000 ($7,486,149 today) (about what 40 civilian workers could earn in a lifetime of work). In four years, $25 million in prize money was awarded.
While a large proportion of blockade runners did manage to evade the Union ships, as the blockade matured, the type of ship most likely to find success in evading the naval cordon was a small, light ship with a short draft—qualities that facilitated blockade running but were poorly suited to carrying large amounts of heavy weaponry, metals, and other supplies badly needed by the South. To be successful in helping the Confederacy, a blockade runner had to make many trips; eventually, most were captured or sunk. Nonetheless, five out of six attempts to evade the Union blockade were successful. During the war, some 1,500 blockade runners were captured or destroyed.
Ordinary freighters were too slow and visible to escape the Navy. The blockade runners therefore relied mainly on new steamships built in Britain with low profiles, shallow draft, and high speed. Their paddle-wheels, driven by steam engines that burned smokeless , could make 17 knots (31 km/h). Because the South lacked sufficient sailors, skippers and shipbuilding capability, the runners were built, commanded and manned by British officers and sailors. Private British investors spent perhaps £50 million on the runners ($250 million in U.S. dollars, equivalent to about $2.5 billion in 2006 dollars). The pay was high: a Royal Navy officer on leave might earn several thousand dollars (in gold) in salary and bonus per round trip, with ordinary seamen earning several hundred dollars.
The blockade runners were based in the British islands of Bermuda and the Bahamas, or Havana, in Spanish Cuba. The goods they carried were brought to these places by ordinary cargo ships, and loaded onto the runners. The runners then ran the gauntlet between their bases and Confederate ports, some 500–700 miles (800–1,100 km) apart. On each trip, a runner carried several hundred tons of compact, high-value cargo such as cotton, turpentine or tobacco outbound, and rifles, medicine, brandy, lingerie and coffee inbound. Oftentimes, they also carried mail. They charged from $300 to $1,000 per ton of cargo brought in; two round trips a month would generate perhaps $250,000 in revenue (and $80,000 in wages and expenses).
Blockade runners preferred to run past the Union Navy at night, either on moonless nights, before the moon rose, or after it set. As they approached the coastline, the ships showed no lights, and sailors were prohibited from smoking. Likewise, Union warships covered all their lights, except perhaps a faint light on the commander's ship. If a Union warship discovered a blockade runner, it fired signal rockets in the direction of its course to alert other ships. The runners adapted to such tactics by firing their own rockets in different directions to confuse Union warships.
In November 1864, a wholesaler in Wilmington asked his agent in the Bahamas to stop sending so much chloroform and instead send "essence of cognac" because that perfume would sell "quite high." Confederate patriots held rich blockade runners in contempt for profiteering on luxuries while the soldiers were in rags. On the other hand, their bravery and initiative were necessary for the nation's survival, and many women in the back country flaunted imported $10 gewgaws and $50 hats as patriotic proof that the "damn yankees" had failed to isolate them from the outer world. The government in Richmond, Virginia, eventually regulated the traffic, requiring half the imports to be munitions; it even purchased and operated some runners on its own account and made sure they loaded vital war goods. By 1864, Lee's soldiers were eating imported meat. Blockade running was reasonably safe for both sides. It was not illegal under international law; captured foreign sailors were released, while Confederates went to prison camps. The ships were unarmed (the weight of cannon would slow them down), so they posed no danger to the Navy warships.
One example of the lucrative (and short-lived) nature of the blockade running trade was the ship Banshee, which operated out of Nassau and Bermuda. She was captured on her seventh run into Wilmington, North Carolina, and confiscated by the U.S. Navy for use as a blockading ship. However, at the time of her capture, she had turned a 700% profit for her English owners, who quickly commissioned and built the Banshee No. 2, which soon joined the firm's fleet of blockade runners.
In May 1865, the Lark became the last Confederate ship to slip out of a Southern port and successfully evade the Union blockade when she left Galveston, Texas, for Havana.
The Union blockade was a powerful weapon that eventually ruined the Southern economy, at the cost of very few lives. The measure of the blockade's success was not the few ships that slipped through, but the thousands that never tried it. Ordinary freighters had no reasonable hope of evading the blockade and stopped calling at Southern ports. The interdiction of coastal traffic meant that long-distance travel depended on the rickety railroad system, which never overcame the devastating impact of the blockade. Throughout the war, the South produced enough food for civilians and soldiers, but it had growing difficulty in moving surpluses to areas of scarcity and famine. Lee's army, at the end of the supply line, nearly always was short of supplies as the war progressed into its final two years.
When the blockade began in 1861, it was only partially effective. It has been estimated that only one in ten ships trying to evade the blockade were intercepted. However, the Union Navy gradually increased in size throughout the war, and was able to drastically reduce shipments into Confederate ports. By 1864, one in every three ships attempting to run the blockade were being intercepted. In the final two years of the war, the only ships with a reasonable chance of evading the blockade were blockade runners specifically designed for speed.
The blockade almost totally choked off Southern cotton exports, which the Confederacy depended on for hard currency. Cotton exports fell 95%, from 10 million bales in the three years prior to the war to just 500,000 bales during the blockade period. The blockade also largely reduced imports of food, medicine, war materials, manufactured goods, and luxury items, resulting in severe shortages and inflation. Shortages of bread led to occasional bread riots in Richmond and other cities, showing that patriotism was not sufficient to satisfy the demands of housewives. Land routes remained open for cattle drovers, but after the Union seized control of the Mississippi River in summer 1863, it became impossible to ship horses, cattle and swine from Texas and Arkansas to the eastern Confederacy. The blockade was a triumph of the U.S. Navy and a major factor in winning the war.
The Confederacy constructed torpedo boats, tending to be small, fast steam launches equipped with spar torpedoes, to attack the blockading fleet. Some torpedo boats were refitted steam launches; others, such as the David class, were purpose-built. The torpedo boats tried to attack under cover of night by ramming the spar torpedo into the hull of the blockading ship, then backing off and detonating the explosive. The torpedo boats were not very effective and were easily countered by simple measures such as hanging chains over the sides of ships to foul the screws of the torpedo boats, or encircling the ships with wooden booms to trap the torpedoes at a distance.
One historically notable naval action was the attack of the H. L. HunleyCSS , a hand-powered submarine launched from Charleston, South Carolina, against Union blockade ships. On the night of February 17, 1864, the Hunley attacked the HousatonicUSS . The Housatonic sank with the loss of 5 crew; the Hunley also sank, taking her crew of 8 to the bottom.
The first victory for the U.S. Navy during the early phases of the blockade occurred on April 24, 1861, when the sloop USS Cumberland and a small flotilla of support ships began seizing Confederate ships and privateers in the vicinity of Fort Monroe off the Virginia coastline. Within the next two weeks, Flag Officer Garrett J. Pendergrast had captured 16 enemy vessels, serving early notice to the Confederate War Department that the blockade would be effective if extended.
Early battles in support of the blockade included the Blockade of the Chesapeake Bay, from May to June 1861, and the Blockade of the Carolina Coast, August–December 1861. Both enabled the Union Navy to gradually extend its blockade southward along the Atlantic seaboard.
In early March 1862 the blockade of the James River in Virginia was gravely threatened by the first ironclad, the Merrimack aka VirginiaCSS in the dramatic Battle of Hampton Roads. Only the timely entry of the new Union ironclad MonitorUSS forestalled the threat. Two months later, the Virginia and other ships of the James River Squadron were scuttled in response to the Union Army and Navy advances.
The port of Savannah, Georgia was effectively sealed by the reduction and surrender of Fort Pulaski on April 11, 1862.
The largest Confederate port, New Orleans, Louisiana, was ill-suited to blockade running since the channels could be sealed by the U.S. Navy. From April 16 to April 22, 1862, the major forts below the city, Forts Jackson and St. Philip were bombarded by David Dixon Porter's mortar schooners. On April 22 Flag Officer David Farragut's fleet cleared a passage through the obstructions. The fleet successfully ran past the forts on the morning of April 24. This forced the surrender of the forts and New Orleans.
The Battle of Mobile Bay, August 5, 1864, closed the last major Confederate port in the Gulf of Mexico.
In December 1864, Union Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles sent a force against Fort Fisher, which protected the Confederate's access to the Atlantic from Wilmington, North Carolina, the last open Confederate port. The first attack failed, but with a change in tactics (and Union generals), the fort fell in January 1865, closing the last major Confederate port.
As the Union fleet grew in size, speed and sophistication, more ports came under Federal control. After 1862, only three ports—Wilmington, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; and Mobile, Alabama—remained open for the 75 to 100 blockade runners in business. Charleston was shut down by Admiral John A. Dahlgren's South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in 1863. Mobile Bay was captured in August 1864 by Admiral David Farragut. Blockade runners faced an increasing risk of capture— in 1861 and 1862, one sortie in 9 ended in capture; in 1863 and 1864, one in 3. By war's end, imports had been choked to a trickle as the number of captures came to 50% of the sorties. Some 1,100 blockade runners were captured (and another 300 destroyed). British investors frequently made the mistake of reinvesting their profits in the trade; when the war ended they were stuck with useless ships and rapidly depreciating cotton. In the final accounting, perhaps half the investors took a profit, and half a loss.
The Union victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi, in July 1863 opened up the Mississippi River and effectively cut off the western Confederacy as a source of troops and supplies. The fall of Fort Fisher and the city of Wilmington, North Carolina, early in 1865 closed the last major port for blockade runners, and in quick succession Richmond was evacuated, the Army of Northern Virginia disintegrated, and General Lee surrendered. Thus, most economists give the Union blockade a prominent role in the outcome of the war. (Elekund, 2004)
The Union naval ships enforcing the blockade were divided into squadrons based on their area of operation.
The Atlantic Blockading Squadron was a unit of the United States Navy created in the early days of the American Civil War to enforce a blockade of the ports of the Confederate States. It was formed in 1861 and split up the same year for the creation of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron and the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron was based at Hampton Roads, Virginia, and was tasked with coverage of Virginia and North Carolina. Its official range of operation was from the Potomac River to Cape Fear in North Carolina. It was tasked primarily with preventing Confederate ships from supplying troops and with supporting Union troops. It was created when the Atlantic Blockading Squadron was split between the North and South Atlantic Blockading Squadrons on October 29, 1861. After the end of the war, the squadron was merged into the Atlantic Squadron on July 25, 1865.
The South Atlantic Blockading Squadron was tasked primarily with preventing Confederate ships from supplying troops and with supporting Union troops operating between Cape Henry in Virginia down to Key West in Florida. It was created when the Atlantic Blockading Squadron was split between the North and South Atlantic Blockading Squadrons on October 29, 1861. After the end of the war, the squadron was merged into the Atlantic Squadron on July 25, 1865.
The Gulf Blockading Squadron was a squadron of the United States Navy in the early part of the War, patrolling from Key West to the Mexican border. The squadron was the largest in operation. It was split into the East and West Gulf Blockading Squadrons in early 1862 for more efficiency.
The East Gulf Blockading Squadron, assigned the Florida coast from east of Pensacola to Cape Canaveral, was a minor command.
The West Gulf Blockading Squadron was tasked primarily with preventing Confederate ships from supplying troops and with supporting Union troops along the western half of the Gulf Coast, from the mouth of the Mississippi to the Rio Grande and south, beyond the border with Mexico. It was created early in 1862 when the Gulf Blockading Squadron was split between the East and West. This unit was the main military force deployed by the Union in the capture and brief occupation of Galveston, Texas in 1862.
Confederate States of America
A bullet is a projectile propelled by a firearm, sling, or air gun. Bullets do not normally contain explosives, but damage the intended target by impact and penetration. The word "bullet" is sometimes colloquially used to refer to ammunition in general, or to a cartridge, which is a combination of the bullet, case/shell, powder, and primer. This use of 'bullet', when 'cartridge' is intended, leads to confusion when the components of a cartridge are discussed or intended. See the reference section for more detail.
The history of bullets far predates the history of firearms. Originally, bullets were made out of metal, stone or purpose-made clay balls used as sling ammunition, as weapons and for hunting. Eventually as firearms were developed, these same items were placed in front of a propellant charge of gunpowder at the end of a closed tube. As firearms became more technologically advanced, from 1500 to 1800, bullets changed very little. They remained simple round (spherical) lead balls, called rounds, differing only in their diameter.
The development of the hand culverin and matchlock arquebus brought about the use of cast lead balls as projectiles. "Bullet" is derived from the French word boulette which roughly means little ball. The original musket bullet was a spherical lead ball smaller than the bore, wrapped in a loosely fitted paper patch which served to hold the bullet in the barrel firmly upon the powder. (Bullets that were not firmly upon the powder upon firing risked causing the barrel to explode, with the condition known as a short start.) The loading of muskets was, therefore, easy with the old smooth-bore Brown Bess and similar military muskets. The original muzzle-loading rifle, on the other hand, with a more closely fitting ball to take the rifling grooves, was more difficult to load, particularly when the bore of the barrel was fouled from previous firings. For this reason, early rifles were not generally used for military purposes.
The first half of the nineteenth century saw a distinct change in the shape and function of the bullet. In 1826, Delvigne, a French infantry officer, invented a breech with abrupt shoulders on which a spherical bullet was rammed down until it caught the rifling grooves. Delvigne's method, however, deformed the bullet and was inaccurate.
Square bullets, invented by James Puckle and Kyle Tunis, were briefly used in one version of the Puckle gun. The use of these was soon discontinued due to irregular and unpredictable flight patterns.
Among the first pointed or "conical" bullets were those designed by Captain John Norton of the British Army in 1823. Norton's bullet had a hollow base which upon firing expanded under pressure to engage with a barrel's rifling. The British Board of Ordnance rejected it because spherical bullets had been in use for the previous 300 years.][
Renowned English gunsmith William Greener invented the Greener bullet in 1836. It was very similar to Norton's bullet except that the hollow base of the bullet was fitted with a wooden plug which more reliably forced the base of the bullet to expand and catch the rifling. Tests proved that Greener's bullet was extremely effective but it too was rejected for military use because, being two parts, it was judged as being too complicated to produce.
The soft lead Minié ball was first introduced in 1847 by Claude-Étienne Minié, a captain in the French Army. It was nearly identical to the Greener bullet. As designed by Minié, the bullet was conical in shape with a hollow cavity in the rear, which was fitted with a little iron cap instead of a wooden plug. When fired, the iron cap would force itself into the hollow cavity at the rear of the bullet, thus expanding the sides of the bullet to grip and engage the rifling. In 1855, the British adopted the Minié ball for their Enfield rifles. A similar bullet called the Nessler ball was also developed for smoothbore muskets.
The small Minié ball first saw widespread use in the American Civil War. Roughly 90% of the battlefield casualties in this war were caused by Minié balls fired from rifles.
Between 1854 and 1857, Sir Joseph Whitworth conducted a long series of rifle experiments, and proved, among other points, the advantages of a smaller bore and, in particular, of an elongated bullet. The Whitworth bullet was made to fit the grooves of the rifle mechanically. The Whitworth rifle was never adopted by the government, although it was used extensively for match purposes and target practice between 1857 and 1866, when it was gradually superseded by Metford's.
About 1862 and later, W. E. Metford carried out an exhaustive series of experiments on bullets and rifling, and invented the important system of light rifling with increasing spiral, and a hardened bullet. The combined result was that in December 1888 the Lee-Metford small-bore (0.303", 7.70 mm) rifle, Mark I, (photo of cartridge on right) was finally adopted for the British army. The Lee-Metford was the predecessor of the Lee-Enfield.
The next important change in the history of the rifle bullet occurred in 1882, when Major Eduard Rubin, director of the Swiss Army Laboratory at Thun, invented the copper jacketed bullet — an elongated bullet with a lead core in a copper jacket. It was also small bore (7.5mm and 8mm) and it is the precursor of the 8mm "Lebel bullet" which was adopted for the smokeless powder ammunition of the Mle 1886 Lebel rifle.
The surface of lead bullets fired at high velocity may melt due to hot gases behind and friction with the bore. Because copper has a higher melting point, and greater specific heat capacity and hardness, copper jacketed bullets allow greater muzzle velocities.
European advances in aerodynamics led to the pointed spitzer bullet. By the beginning of the twentieth century, most world armies had begun to transition to spitzer bullets. These bullets flew for greater distances more accurately and carried more energy with them. Spitzer bullets combined with machine guns greatly increased the lethality of the battlefield.
The latest advancement in bullet shape was the boat tail, a streamlined base for spitzer bullets. The vacuum created as air moving at high speed passes over the end of a bullet slows the projectile. The streamlined boat tail design reduces this form drag by allowing the air to flow along the surface of the tapering end. The resulting aerodynamic advantage is currently seen as the optimum shape for rifle technology. The first combination spitzer and boat-tail bullet, named Balle "D" from its inventor (a lieutenant-colonel Desaleux), was introduced as standard military ammunition in 1901, for the French Lebel Model 1886 rifle .
Bullet designs have to solve two primary problems. In the barrel, they must first form a seal with the gun's bore. If a strong seal is not achieved, gas from the propellant charge leaks past the bullet, thus reducing efficiency and possibly accuracy. The bullet must also engage the rifling without damaging or excessively fouling the gun's bore, and without distorting the bullet, which will also reduce accuracy. Bullets must have a surface which will form this seal without causing excessive friction. These interactions between bullet and bore are termed internal ballistics. Bullets must be produced to a high standard, as surface imperfections can affect firing accuracy.
The physics affecting the bullet once it leaves the barrel is termed external ballistics. The primary factors affecting the aerodynamics of a bullet in flight are the bullet's shape and the rotation imparted by the rifling of the gun barrel. Rotational forces stabilize the bullet gyroscopically as well as aerodynamically. Any asymmetry in the bullet is largely canceled as it spins. With smooth-bore firearms, a spherical shape was optimum because no matter how it was oriented, it presented a uniform front. These unstable bullets tumbled erratically and provided only moderate accuracy, however the aerodynamic shape changed little for centuries. Generally, bullet shapes are a compromise between aerodynamics, interior ballistic necessities, and terminal ballistics requirements. Another method of stabilization is for the center of mass of the bullet to be as far forward as is practical, which is how the Minié ball and the shuttlecock are designed. This allows the bullet to fly front-forward by means of aerodynamics.
See the articles on terminal ballistics and/or stopping power for an overview of how bullet design affects what happens when a bullet impacts with an object. The outcome of the impact is determined by the composition and density of the target material, the angle of incidence, and the velocity and physical characteristics of the bullet itself. Bullets are generally designed to penetrate, deform, and/or break apart. For a given material and bullet, the strike velocity is the primary factor determining which outcome is achieved.
Bullet shapes are many and varied, and an array of them can be found in any reloading manual that sells bullet moulds. Mould manufacturers such as RCBS, Paul Jones Moulds, and David Mos offer many different calibers and designs. With a mould, bullets can be made at home for reloading one's own ammunition, where local laws allow. Hand-casting, however, is only time- and cost-effective for solid lead bullets. Cast and jacketed bullets are also commercially available from numerous manufacturers for hand loading and are much more convenient than casting bullets from bulk lead.
Propulsion of the ball can happen via several methods:
Bullets for black powder, or muzzle loading firearms, were classically molded from pure lead. This worked well for low speed bullets, fired at velocities of less than 450 m/s (1475 ft/s). For slightly higher speed bullets fired in modern firearms, a harder alloy of lead and tin or typesetter's lead (used to mold Linotype) works very well. For even higher speed bullet use, jacketed coated lead bullets are used. The common element in all of these, lead, is widely used because it is very dense, thereby providing a high amount of mass—and thus, kinetic energy—for a given volume. Lead is also cheap, easy to obtain, easy to work, and melts at a low temperature, which results in comparatively easy fabrication of bullets.
The St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868 prohibited the use of explosive projectiles weighing less than 400 grams.
The Hague Convention prohibits certain kinds of ammunition for use by uniformed military personnel against the uniformed military personnel of opposing forces. These include projectiles which explode within an individual, poisoned and expanding bullets.
Protocol III of the 1983 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, an annexe to the Geneva Conventions, prohibits the use of incendiary munitions against civilians.
Nothing in these treaties prohibits tracers or the use of prohibited bullets on military equipment.
These treaties apply even to .22 LR bullets used in pistols, rifles and machine guns. Hence, the High Standard HDM pistol, a .22 LR suppressed pistol, had special bullets developed for it during World War II that were full metal jacketed, in place of the soft-point and hollow-point bullets that are otherwise ubiquitous for .22 LR rounds.
Some jurisdictions are acting on environmental concerns and banning hunting with lead shotgun pellets. This creates issues for shooters because stainless steel pellets are considered to behave sub-optimally in flight compared to lead. The element bismuth is a safe alternative whose density is closer to lead than steel, and ammunition made from it is becoming ever more widely available.
New Mexico Campaign
The Confederate States of America (CSA or C.S.A.), also known as the Confederacy, was a government set up on February 8, 1861, by six of the seven southern slave states that had declared their secession from the United States. The Confederacy went on to recognize as member states eleven states that had formally declared secession, two additional states with questionable declarations, and one new territory. Secessionists argued that the United States Constitution was a compact that each state could abandon without consultation; the United States (the Union) rejected secession as illegal. The American Civil War began with the 1861 Confederate attack upon Fort Sumter, a Union fort within territory claimed by the CSA. By 1865, after very heavy fighting, largely on Confederate soil, CSA forces were defeated and the Confederacy collapsed. No foreign nation officially recognized the Confederacy as an independent country, but several had granted belligerent status.
The Confederate Constitution of seven state signatories—South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—formed a "permanent federal government" in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1861. Four additional slave-holding states—Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina—declared their secession and joined the Confederacy following a call by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln for troops from each state to recapture Sumter and other lost federal properties in the South. Missouri and Kentucky were represented by partisan factions from those states. Also aligned with the Confederacy were two of the "Five Civilized Tribes" and a new Confederate Territory of Arizona. Efforts to secede in Maryland were halted by martial law, while Delaware, though of divided loyalty, did not attempt it. A Unionist government in western parts of Virginia organized the new state of West Virginia which was admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863. The Confederate government in Richmond, Virginia, had an uneasy relationship with its member states due to issues related to control of manpower, although the South (i.e. the CSA) mobilized nearly its entire white male population for war.
Confederate control over its claimed territory and population steadily shrank from 73% to 34% during the course of the Civil War due to the Union's successful overland campaigns, its control of the inland waterways into the South, and its blockade of the Southern seacoast. These created an insurmountable disadvantage in men, supply, and finance. Public support of Confederate President Jefferson Davis's administration eroded over time with repeated military reverses, economic hardship, and allegations of autocratic government. After four years of Union campaigning, Richmond fell in April 1865, and shortly afterward, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant—with that the Confederacy effectively collapsed. President Davis was captured on May 10, 1865, at Irwinville, Georgia. Four years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. White that secession was illegal and that the Confederacy had never legally existed.
The U.S. Congress began a decade-long process known as Reconstruction which some scholars treat as an extension of the Civil War. It lasted throughout the administrations of Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and Grant and saw the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to free the slaves, the Fourteenth to guarantee dual U.S. and state citizenship to all, and the Fifteenth to guarantee the right to vote in states. The war left the South economically devastated by military action, ruined infrastructure, and exhausted resources. The region remained well below national levels of prosperity until after World War II.
The Confederacy was established in the Montgomery Convention in February 1861 by state delegations sent from seven of the secessionist states of the United States. Following Lincoln's inauguration, four additional border states were represented, and subsequently two states and two territories gained seats in the Confederate Congress in accordance with their Secessionist resolves. The government existed from Spring 1861 to Spring 1865 during a Civil War initiated by Confederate firing on U.S. Fort Sumter.
Many southern whites had considered themselves more Southern than American and would fight for their state and their region to be independent of the larger nation. That regionalism became a Southern nationalism, or the "Cause". For the duration of its existence, the Confederacy underwent trial by war. The "Southern Cause" transcended the ideology of "states' rights", tariff policy or internal improvements. It was based on lifestyle, values and belief system. Its "way of life" became sacred to its adherents. Everything of the South became a moral question, commingling love of things Southern and hatred of things Yankee (the North). Not only did national political parties split, but national churches and interstate families as well divided along sectional lines as the war approached.
In no states were the whites unanimous. There were minority views everywhere and the upland plateau regions in every state had strongholds of Unionist support, especially western Virginia and eastern Tennessee. South of the Mason–Dixon Line voter support for the three pro-Union candidates in 1860 ranged from 37% in Florida to 71% in Missouri. It was an American tragedy, the Brothers' War according to some scholars, "brother against brother, father against son, kith against kin of every degree".
The Confederate States of America was created by secessionists in Southern slave states who refused to remain in a nation that they believed was turning them into second–class citizens. The agent of change was seen as abolitionists and anti-slavery elements in the Republican Party who they believed used repeated insult and injury to subject them to intolerable "humiliation and degradation". The "Black Republicans" (as the Southerners called them) and their allies now threatened to become a majority in the United States House, Senate and Presidency. On the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (a presumed supporter of slavery) was 83 and ailing.
During the campaign for president in 1860, some secessionists threatened disunion should Lincoln be elected, most notably William L. Yancey. Yancey toured the North calling for secession as Stephen A. Douglas toured the South calling for union in the event of Lincoln's election. To Secessionists the Republican intent was clear: the elimination or restriction of slavery. A Lincoln victory forced them to a momentous choice even before his inauguration, "The Union without slavery, or slavery without the Union."
Historian Emory Thomas reconstructed the Confederacy's self–image by studying the correspondence sent by the Confederate government in 1861–62 to foreign governments. He found that Confederate diplomacy projected multiple contradictory self images:
By 1860, sectional disagreements between North and South revolved primarily around the maintenance or expansion of slavery. Historian Drew Gilpin Faust observed that "leaders of the secession movement across the South cited slavery as the most compelling reason for southern independence." Even though most white Southerners did not own slaves, the majority of white Southerners supported slavery. Besides supporting a right to hold slaves, one explanation given for why the majority might support this minority position was that they did not want to be at the bottom of the social ladder. Related and intertwined secondary issues also fueled the dispute; these secondary differences included issues of free speech, runaway slaves, expansion into Cuba and states' rights. The immediate spark for secession came from the victory of the Republican Party and the election of Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 elections. Civil War historian James M. McPherson wrote:
In what later became known as the Cornerstone Speech, C.S. Vice President Alexander Stephens declared that the "cornerstone" of the new government "rest[ed] upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery—subordination to the superior race—is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth". In later years, however, Stephens made efforts to qualify his remarks, claiming they were extemporaneous, metaphorical, and never meant to literally reflect "the principles of the new Government on this subject."
Four of the seceding states, the Deep South states of South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas, issued formal declarations of causes, each of which identified the threat to slaveholders' rights as the cause of, or a major cause of, secession. Georgia also claimed a general Federal policy of favoring Northern over Southern economic interests. Texas mentioned slavery 21 times, but also listed the failure of the federal government to live up to its obligations, in the original annexation agreement, to protect settlers along the exposed western frontier.
Texas further stated:
The Fire-Eaters, calling for immediate secession, were opposed by two elements. "Cooperationists" in the Deep South would delay secession until several states went together, maybe in a Southern Convention. Under the influence of men such as Texas Governor Sam Houston, delay had the effect of sustaining the Union. "Unionists", especially in the Border South, often former Whigs, appealed to sentimental attachment to the United States. Their][ favorite presidential candidate was John Bell of Tennessee.][
Secessionists were active politically. Governor William Henry Gist of South Carolina corresponded secretly with other Deep South governors, and most governors exchanged clandestine commissioners. Charleston's secessionist "1860 Association" published over 200,000 pamphlets to persuade the youth of the South. The top three were South Carolina's John Townsend's "The Doom of Slavery", "The South Alone Should Govern the South", and James D.B. De Bow's "The Interest of Slavery of the Southern Non-slaveholder".
Developments in South Carolina started a chain of events. The foreman of a jury refused the legitimacy of federal courts, so Federal Judge Andrew Magrath ruled that U.S. judicial authority in South Carolina was vacated. A mass meeting in Charleston celebrating the Charleston and Savannah railroad and state cooperation led to the South Carolina legislature to call for a Secession Convention. U.S. Senator James Chesnut, Jr. resigned, as did Senator James Henry Hammond.
Elections for Secessionist conventions were heated to "an almost raving pitch, no one dared dissent," says Freehling. Even once–respected voices, including the Chief Justice of South Carolina, John Belton O'Neall, lost election to the Secession Convention on a Cooperationist ticket. Across the South mobs expelled Yankees and (in Texas) killed Germans suspected of loyalty to the United States. Generally, seceding conventions which followed did not call for a referendum to ratify, although Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee did, also Virginia's second convention. Missouri and Kentucky declared neutrality.
The first secession state conventions from the Deep South sent representatives to meet at the Montgomery Convention in Montgomery, Alabama, on February 4, 1861. There the fundamental documents of government were promulgated, a provisional government was established, and a representative Congress met for the Confederate States of America.
The new 'provisional' Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a former "Cooperationist" who had insisted on delaying secession until a united South could move together, issued a call for 100,000 men from the various states' militias to defend the newborn nation. Previously John B. Floyd, U.S. Secretary of War under President James Buchanan, had moved arms south out of northern U.S. armories. To economize War Department expenditures, Floyd and Congressional elements persuaded Buchanan not to put the armaments for southern forts into place. These were now appropriated by the Confederacy along with bullion and coining dies at the U.S. mints in Charlotte, North Carolina; Dahlonega, Georgia; and New Orleans.
The Confederate capital was moved to Richmond, Virginia, in May 1861. Five days later, Davis extended the earlier martial law declared in Norfolk and Portsmouth to ten miles beyond Richmond. On February 22, 1862 (George Washington's birthday), Davis was inaugurated as permanent president with a term of six years, having been elected in November 1861.
In his first Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln tried to contain the expansion of the Confederacy. To quiet the rising calls for secession in additional slave-holding states, he assured the Border States that slavery would be preserved in the states where it existed, and he entertained a proposed Thirteenth "Corwin Amendment" under consideration to explicitly protect slavery in the Constitution.
The newly inaugurated Confederate Administration pursued a policy of national territorial integrity, continuing earlier state efforts in 1860 and early 1861 to remove U.S. government presence from within their boundaries. These efforts included taking possession of U.S. courts, custom houses, post offices, and most notably, arsenals and forts. But at the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, Lincoln called up 75,000 of the states' militia to muster under his command. The stated purpose was to re-occupy U.S. properties throughout the South, as the U.S. Congress had not authorized their abandonment. The resistance at Fort Sumter signaled his change of policy from that of the Buchanan Administration. Lincoln's response ignited a firestorm of emotion. The people both North and South demanded war, and young men rushed to their colors in the hundreds of thousands. Four more states (Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas) declared secessions, while Kentucky tried to remain neutral.
Secessionists argued that the United States Constitution was a compact among states that could be abandoned at any time without consultation and that each state had a right to secede. After intense debates and statewide votes, seven Deep South cotton states passed secession ordinances by February 1861 (before Abraham Lincoln took office as president), while secession efforts failed in the other eight slave states. Delegates from those seven formed the C.S.A. in February 1861, selecting Jefferson Davis as the provisional president. Unionist talk of reunion failed and Davis began raising a 100,000 man army.
Initially, some secessionists hoped for a peaceful departure, including all slave-holding states in the Union.] [ Moderates in the Confederate Constitutional Convention included a provision against importation of slaves from Africa to appeal to the Upper South. Non-slave states might join, but the radicals secured a two-thirds hurdle for them.
Seven states declared their secession from the United States before Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861. After the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter April 12, 1861 and Lincoln's subsequent call for troops on April 15, four more states declared their secession:
Kentucky declared neutrality but after Confederate troops moved in, the state government asked for Union troops to drive them out. The splinter Confederate state government relocated to accompany western Confederate armies and never controlled the state population.
In Missouri, on October 31, 1861, a pro-CSA remnant of the General Assembly met and passed an ordinance of secession. The Confederate state government was unable to control very much Missouri territory. It had its capital first at Neosho, then at Cassville, before being driven out of the state. For the remainder of the war, it operated as a government in exile at Marshall, Texas.
Neither Kentucky nor Missouri were declared in rebellion in the Emancipation Proclamation. The Confederacy recognized the pro-Confederate claimants in both Kentucky and Missouri and laid claim to those states, granting them Congressional representation and adding two stars to the Confederate flag.
The order of secession resolutions and dates follow.
1. South Carolina (December 20, 1860)
2. Mississippi (January 9, 1861)
3. Florida (January 10)
4. Alabama (January 11)
5. Georgia (January 19)
6. Louisiana (January 26)
7. Texas (February 1; referendum February 23)
– Ft. Sumter (April 12) and Lincoln's call up (April 15) –
8. Virginia (April 17; referendum May 23, 1861)
9. Arkansas (May 6)
10. Tennessee (May 7; referendum June 8)
11. North Carolina (May 20)
In Virginia the populous counties along the Ohio and Pennsylvania borders rejected the Confederacy. Unionists held a Convention in Wheeling in June 1861, establishing a "restored government" with a rump legislature, but sentiment in the region remained deeply divided. In the 50 counties that would make up the state of West Virginia, voters from 24 counties had voted for disunion in Virginia's May 23 referendum on the ordinance of secession. In the 1860 Presidential election "Constitutional Democrat" Breckenridge had outpolled "Constitutional Unionist" Bell in the 50 counties by 1,900 votes, 44% to 42%. Regardless of scholarly disputes over election procedures and results county by county, altogether they simultaneously supplied over 20,000 soldiers to each side of the conflict. Representatives for most of the counties were seated in both state legislatures at Wheeling and at Richmond for the duration of the war.
Attempts to secede from the Confederacy by some counties in East Tennessee were checked by martial law. Although slave-holding Delaware and Maryland did not secede, citizens from those states exhibited divided loyalties. Maryland regiments fought in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Delaware never produced a full regiment for the Confederacy, but neither did it emancipate slaves as did Missouri and West Virginia. District of Columbia citizens made no attempts to secede and through the war years, Lincoln-sponsored referendums approved systems of compensated emancipation and slave confiscation from "disloyal citizens".
Citizens at Mesilla and Tucson in the southern part of New Mexico Territory formed a secession convention, which voted to join the Confederacy on March 16, 1861, and appointed Lewis Owings as the new territorial governor. They won the Battle of Mesilla and established a territorial government with Mesilla serving as its capital. The Confederacy proclaimed the Confederate Arizona Territory on February 14, 1862 north to the 34th parallel. Marcus H. MacWillie served in both Confederate Congresses as Arizona's delegate. In 1862 the Confederate New Mexico Campaign to take the northern half of the U.S. territory failed and the Confederate territorial government in exile relocated to San Antonio, Texas.
Confederate supporters in the trans-Mississippi west also claimed portions of United States Indian Territory after the United States evacuated the federal forts and installations. Over half of the American Indian troops participating in the Civil War from the Indian Territory supported the Confederacy; troops and one general were enlisted from each tribe. On July 12, 1861, the Confederate government signed a treaty with both the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian nations. After several battles Northern armies moved back into the territory.
Indian Territory was never formally ceded into the Confederacy by American Indian councils, but like Missouri and Kentucky, the Five Civilized Nations received representation in the Confederate Congress and their citizens were integrated into regular Confederate Army units. After 1863 the tribal governments sent representatives to the Confederate Congress: Elias Cornelius Boudinot representing the Cherokee and Samuel Benton Callahan representing the Seminole and Creek people. The Cherokee Nation, aligning with the Confederacy, alleged northern violations of the Constitution, waging war against slavery commercial and political interests, abolishing slavery in the Indian Territory, and that the North intended to seize additional Indian lands.
Montgomery, Alabama served as the capital of the Confederate States of America from February 4 until May 29, 1861. Six states created the Confederate States of America there on February 8, 1861. The Texas delegation was seated at the time, so it is counted in the "original seven" states of the Confederacy. But it had no roll call vote until after its referendum made secession "operative". Two sessions of the Provisional Congress were held in Montgomery, adjourning May 21. The Permanent Constitution was adopted there on March 12, 1861.
The permanent capital provided for in the Confederate Constitution called for a state cession of a ten-miles square (100 square mile) district to the central government. Atlanta, which had not yet supplanted Milledgeville, Georgia as its state capital, put in a bid noting its central location and rail connections, as did Opelika, Alabama, noting its strategically interior situation, rail connections and nearby deposits of coal and iron.
Richmond, Virginia was chosen for the interim capital. The move was used by Vice President Stephens and others to encourage other border states to follow Virginia into the Confederacy. In the political moment it was a show of "defiance and strength". The war for southern independence was surely to be fought in Virginia, but it also had the largest Southern military-aged white population, with infrastructure, resources and supplies required to sustain a war. The Davis Administration's policy was that, "It must be held at all hazards."
The naming of Richmond as the new capital took place on May 30, 1861, and the last two sessions of the Provisional Congress were held in the new capital. The Permanent Confederate Congress and President were elected in the states and army camps on November 6, 1861. The First Congress met in four sessions in Richmond from February 18, 1862 to February 17, 1864. The Second Congress met there in two sessions, from May 2, 1864 to March 18, 1865.
As war dragged on, Richmond became crowded with training and transfers, logistics and hospitals. Prices rose dramatically despite government efforts at price regulation. A movement in Congress led by Henry S. Foote of Tennessee argued for moving the capital from Richmond. At the approach of Federal armies in early summer 1862, the government's archives were readied for removal. As the Wilderness Campaign progressed, Congress authorized Davis to remove the executive department and call Congress to session elsewhere in 1864 and again in 1865. Shortly before the end of the war, the Confederate government evacuated Richmond, planning to relocate farther south. Little came of these plans before Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865. Davis and most of his cabinet fled to Danville, Virginia, which served as the last Confederate capital for about one week.
During the four years of its existence under trial by war, the Confederate States of America asserted its independence and appointed dozens of diplomatic agents abroad. The United States government regarded the southern states in rebellion and so refused any formal recognition of their status.
Even before Fort Sumter, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward issued formal instructions to the American minister to the United Kingdom: Make "no expressions of harshness or disrespect, or even impatience concerning the seceding States, their agents, or their people, [those States] must always continue to be, equal and honored members of this Federal Union, [their citizens] still are and always must be our kindred and countrymen."
If the British seemed inclined to recognize the Confederacy, or even waver in that regard, they were to receive a sharp warning, with a strong hint of war: "[if Britain is] tolerating the application of the so-called seceding States, or wavering about it, [they cannot] remain friends with the United States ... if they determine to recognize [the Confederacy], [Britain] may at the same time prepare to enter into alliance with the enemies of this republic."
The United States government never declared war on those "kindred and countrymen", but conducted its military efforts beginning with a presidential proclamation issued April 15, 1861 calling for troops to recapture forts and suppress a rebellion. Mid-war parlays between the two sides occurred without formal political recognition, though the laws of war predominantly governed military relationships on both sides of uniformed conflict.
On the part of the Confederacy, immediately following Fort Sumter the Confederate Congress proclaimed "... war exists between the Confederate States and the Government of the United States, and the States and Territories thereof ..." A state of war was not to formally exist between the Confederacy and those states and territories in the United States allowing slavery, although Confederate Rangers were compensated for destruction they could effect there throughout the war.
Concerning the international status and nationhood of the Confederate States of America, in 1869 the United States Supreme Court in Texas v. White ruled Texas' declaration of secession was legally null and void. Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederacy, and Alexander Stephens, its former Vice-President, both wrote postwar arguments in favor of secession's legality and the international legitimacy of the Government of the Confederate States of America, most notably Davis' The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.
Once the war with the United States began, the Confederacy pinned its hopes for survival on military intervention by the United Kingdom and France. The Confederates who had believed that "cotton is king"—that is, Britain had to support the Confederacy to obtain cotton—proved mistaken. The British had stocks to last over a year and had been developing alternative sources of cotton, most notably India and Egypt. They were not about to go to war with the U.S. to acquire more cotton at the risk of losing the large quantities of food imported from the North. The Confederate government sent repeated delegations to Europe but historians give them low marks for their poor diplomacy. James M. Mason went to London and John Slidell traveled to Paris. They were unofficially interviewed, but neither secured official recognition for the Confederacy.
In late 1861 illegal actions of the U.S. Navy in seizing a British ship outraged Britain and led to a war scare in the Trent Affair. Recognition of the Confederacy seemed at hand, but Lincoln released the two detained Confederate diplomats, tensions cooled, and the Confederacy gained no advantage.
Throughout the early years of the war, British foreign secretary Lord John Russell, Emperor Napoleon III of France, and, to a lesser extent, British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, showed interest in recognition of the Confederacy or at least mediation of the war. The Union victory at the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and abolitionist opposition in Britain put an end to these plans. The cost to Britain of a war with the U.S. would have been high: the immediate loss of American grain shipments, the end of exports to the U.S., the seizure of billions of pounds invested in American securities. War would have meant higher taxes, another invasion of Canada, and full-scale worldwide attacks on the British merchant fleet. While outright recognition would have meant certain war with the United States, in the summer of 1862 fears of race war as had transpired in Haiti led to the British considering intervention for humanitarian reasons. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not lead to interracial violence let alone a bloodbath, but it did give the friends of the Union strong talking points in the arguments that raged across Britain.
The British government did allow blockade runners to be built in Britain and operated by British seamen. Several European nations maintained diplomats in place who had been appointed to the U.S., but no country appointed any diplomat to the Confederacy. However, those nations did recognize the Union and Confederate sides as belligerents. In 1863, the Confederacy expelled the European diplomatic missions for advising their resident subjects to refuse to serve in the Confederate army. Both Confederate and Union agents were allowed to work openly in British territories. Some state governments in northern Mexico negotiated local agreements to cover trade on the Texas border. Pope Pius IX wrote a letter to Jefferson Davis in which he addressed Davis as the "Honorable President of the Confederate States of America." but The Holy See never released a formal statement supporting or recognizing the Confederacy.
The Confederacy was seen internationally as a serious attempt at nationhood, and European governments sent military observers, both official and unofficial, to assess the de facto establishment of independence. These included: Arthur Freemantle of the British Coldstream Guards, Fitzgerald Ross of the Austrian Hussars, and Justus Scheibert of the Prussian army. European travelers visited and wrote accounts for publication. Importantly in 1862, the Frenchman Charles Girard's Seven months in the rebel states during the North American War testified "this government ... is no longer a trial government ... but really a normal government, the expression of popular will".
Due in part to Lincoln's covert support of Mexican President Benito Juarez, by late spring of 1863 France was in need of Confederate cotton and other Caribbean commerce to sustain the French conquest of Mexico, an effort to reestablish France's North American empire. News of Lee's decisive victory at Chancellorsville had reached Europe, and French Emperor Napoleon III assured Confederate diplomat John Slidell that he would make "direct proposition" to the United Kingdom for joint recognition. The Emperor made the same assurance to Members of Parliament John A. Roebuck and John A. Lindsay. Roebuck in turn publicly prepared a bill to submit to Parliament June 30 supporting joint Anglo-French recognition of the Confederacy. Preparations for Lee's incursion into Pennsylvania were underway to influence the midterm U.S. elections. Confederate independence and nationhood was at a turning point. "Southerners had a right to be optimistic, or at least hopeful, that their revolution would prevail, or at least endure".
By December 1864, Davis considered sacrificing slavery in order to enlist recognition and aid from Paris and London; he secretly sent Duncan F. Kenner to Europe with a message that the war was fought solely for "the vindication of our rights to self-government and independence" and that "no sacrifice is too great, save that of honor." The message stated that if the French or British governments made their recognition conditional on anything at all, the Confederacy would consent to such terms. Davis's message could not explicitly acknowledge that slavery was on the bargaining table due to still-strong domestic support for slavery among the wealthy and politically influential. Although Louis-Napoleon responded receptively to the message in March 1865, he would not commit without the cooperation of Great Britain. Lord Palmerston, however, withheld support, as the war had turned against the Confederacy and Britain couldn't side with a lost cause.
The great majority of young white men voluntarily joined Confederate national or state military units. Perman (2010) says historians are of two minds on why millions of men seemed so eager to fight, suffer and die over four years:
Southern Civil War historian E. Merton Coulter noted that for those who would secure its independence, "The Confederacy was unfortunate in its failure to work out a general strategy for the whole war". Aggressive strategy called for offensive force concentration. Defensive strategy sought dispersal to meet demands of locally minded governors. The controlling philosophy evolved into a combination "dispersal with a defensive concentration around Richmond". The Davis administration considered the war purely defensive, a "simple demand that the people of the United States would cease to war upon us." Northern historian James M. McPherson is a critic of Lee's Offensive Strategy: "Lee pursued a faulty military strategy that ensured Confederate defeat".
As the Confederate government lost control of territory in campaign after campaign, it was said that "the vast size of the Confederacy would make its conquest impossible". The enemy would be struck down by the same elements which so often debilitated or destroyed visitors and transplants in the South. Heat exhaustion, sunstroke, endemic diseases such as malaria and typhoid would match the destructive effectiveness of the Moscow winter on the invading armies of Napoleon.
But despite the Confederacy's essentially defensive stance, in the early stages of the war there were offensive visions of seizing the Rocky Mountains or cutting the North in two by marching to Lake Erie. Then, at a time when both sides believed that one great battle would decide the conflict, the Confederate won a great victory at the First Battle of Bull Run, also known as First Manassas (the name used by Confederate forces). It drove the Confederate people "insane with joy", the public demanded a forward movement to capture Washington DC, relocate the Capital there, and admit Maryland to the Confederacy. A council of war by the victorious Confederate generals decided not to advance against larger numbers of fresh Federal troops in defensive positions. Davis did not countermand it. Following the Confederate incursion halted at the Battle of Antietam, (Sharpsburg), in October 1862 generals proposed concentrating forces from state commands to re-invade the north. Nothing came of it. Again in early 1863 at his incursion into Pennsylvania, Lee requested of Davis that Beauregard simultaneously attack Washington with troops taken from the Carolinas. But the troops there remained in place during the Gettysburg Campaign.
Without counting their enslaved men, eleven states of the Confederacy were outnumbered by the North about four to one in military population. It was overmatched far more in military equipment, ability to produce and procure it, railroads for transport, and wagons supplying the front. Big guns were out-ranged and small arms were less effective. Confederate military policy innovated to compensate. Booby-trapped land mines were laid in the path of invading armies. Harbors, inlets and inland waterways were laced with numbers of sunken "torpedo" mines and covered with mobile artillery batteries. Rangers were sent to disrupt and destroy supplies of invading armies until they were disbanded, then the "dashing cavalry".
The Confederacy relied on external sources for war materials. The first came from trade with the enemy. "Vast amounts of war supplies" came through Kentucky, and thereafter, western armies were "to a very considerable extent" provisioned with illicit trade via Federal agents and northern private traders. But that trade was interrupted in the first year of war by Admiral Porter's river gunboats as they gained dominance along navigable rivers north–south and east–west. Overseas blockade running then came to be of "outstanding importance". On April 17, President Davis called on privateer raiders, the "militia of the sea", to make war on U.S. seaborne commerce. Despite noteworthy effort, over the course of the war the Confederacy was found unable to match the Union in ships and seamanship, materials and marine construction.
Perhaps the most implacable obstacle to success in the 19th century warfare of mass armies was the Confederacy's lack of manpower, sufficient numbers of disciplined, equipped troops in the field at the point of contact with the enemy. During the wintering of 1862–1863, Lee observed that none of his famous victories had resulted in the destruction of the opposing army. He lacked reserve troops to exploit an advantage on the battlefield as Napoleon had done. Lee explained, "More than once have most promising opportunities been lost for want of men to take advantage of them, and victory itself had been made to put on the appearance of defeat, because our diminished and exhausted troops have been unable to renew a successful struggle against fresh numbers of the enemy."
The military armed forces of the Confederacy comprised three branches: Army, Navy and Marine Corps.
The Confederate military leadership included many veterans from the United States Army and United States Navy who had resigned their Federal commissions and had won appointment to senior positions in the Confederate armed forces. Many had served in the Mexican-American War (including Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis), but some such as Leonidas Polk (who had attended West Point but did not graduate) had little or no experience.
The Confederate officer corps consisted of men from both slave-owning and non-slave-owning families. The Confederacy appointed junior and field grade officers by election from the enlisted ranks. Although no Army service academy was established for the Confederacy, some colleges (such as The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute) maintained cadet corps that trained Confederate military leadership. A naval academy was established at Drewry's Bluff, Virginia in 1863, but no midshipmen graduated before the Confederacy's end.
The soldiers of the Confederate armed forces consisted mainly of white males aged between 16 and 28. The median year of birth was 1838, so half the soldiers were 23 or older by 1861. The Confederacy adopted conscription in 1862. Many thousands of slaves served as laborers, cooks, and pioneers. Some freed blacks and men of color served in local state militia units of the Confederacy, primarily in Louisiana and South Carolina, but their officers deployed them for "local defense, not combat." Depleted by casualties and desertions, the military suffered chronic manpower shortages. In the spring of 1865, the Confederate Congress, influenced by the public support by General Lee, approved the recruitment of black infantry units. Contrary to Lee's and Davis's recommendations, the Congress refused "to guarantee the freedom of black volunteers." No more than two hundred black troops were ever raised.
The immediate onset of war meant that it was fought by the "Provisional" or "Volunteer Army". State governors resisted concentrating a national effort. Several wanted a strong state army for self-defense. Others feared large "Provisional" armies answering only to Davis. When filling the Confederate government's call for 100,000 men, another 200,000 were turned away by accepting only those enlisted "for the duration" or twelve-month volunteers who brought their own arms or horses.
It was important to raise troops; it was just as important to provide capable officers to command them. With few exceptions the Confederacy secured excellent general officers. Efficiency in the lower officers was "greater than could have been reasonably expected". As with the Federals, political appointees could be indifferent. Otherwise, the officer corps was governor-appointed or elected by unit enlisted. Promotion to fill vacancies was made internally regardless of merit, even if better officers were immediately available.
Anticipating the need for more "duration" men, in January 1862 Congress provided for company level recruiters to return home for two months, but their efforts met little success on the heels of Confederate battlefield defeats in February. Congress allowed for Davis to require numbers of recruits from each governor to supply the volunteer shortfall. States responded by passing their own draft laws.
The veteran Confederate army of early 1862 was mostly twelve-month volunteers with terms about to expire. Enlisted reorganization elections disintegrated the army for two months. Officers pleaded with the ranks to re-enlist, but a majority did not. Those remaining elected majors and colonels whose performance led to officer review boards in October. The boards caused a "rapid and widespread" thinning out of 1700 incompetent officers. Troops thereafter would elect only second lieutenants.
In early 1862, the popular press suggested the Confederacy required a million men under arms. But veteran soldiers were not re-enlisting, and earlier secessionist volunteers did not reappear to serve in war. One Macon, Georgia, newspaper asked how two million brave fighting men of the South were about to be overcome by four million northerners who were said to be cowards.
The Confederacy passed the first American law of national conscription on April 16, 1862. The white males of the Confederate States from 18 to 35 were declared members of the Confederate army for three years, and all men then enlisted were extended to a three-year term. They would serve only in units and under officers of their state. Those under 18 and over 35 could substitute for conscripts, in September those from 35 to 45 became conscripts. The cry of "rich man's war and a poor man's fight" led Congress to abolish the substitute system altogether in December 1863. All principals benefiting earlier were made eligible for service. By February 1864, the age bracket was made 17 to 50, those under eighteen and over forty-five to be limited to in-state duty.
Confederate conscription was not universal; it was actually a selective service. The First Conscription Act of April 1862 exempted occupations related to transportation, communication, industry, ministers, teaching and physical fitness. The Second Conscription Act of October 1862 expanded exemptions in industry, agriculture and conscientious objection. Exemption fraud proliferated in medical examinations, army furloughs, churches, schools, apothecaries and newspapers.
Rich men's sons were appointed to the socially outcast "overseer" occupation, but the measure was received in the country with "universal odium". The legislative vehicle was the controversial Twenty Negro Law that specifically exempted one white overseer or owner for every plantation with at least 20 slaves. Backpedalling six months later, Congress provided overseers under 45 could be exempted only if they held the occupation before the first Conscription Act. The number of officials under state exemptions appointed by state Governor patronage expanded significantly. By law, substitutes could not be subject to conscription, but instead of adding to Confederate manpower, unit officers in the field reported that over-50 and under-17-year-old substitutes made up to 90% of the desertions.
The Conscription Act of February 1864 "radically changed the whole system" of selection. It abolished industrial exemptions, placing detail authority in President Davis. As the shame of conscription was greater than a felony conviction, the system brought in "about as many volunteers as it did conscripts." Many men in otherwise "bombproof" positions were enlisted in one way or another, nearly 160,000 additional volunteers and conscripts in uniform. Still there was shirking. To administer the draft, a Bureau of Conscription was set up to use state officers, as state Governors would allow. It had a checkered career of "contention, opposition and futility". Armies appointed alternative military "recruiters" to bring in the out-of-uniform 17–50-year-old conscripts and deserters. Nearly 3000 officers would be tasked with the job. By fall 1864, Lee was calling for more troops. "Our ranks are constantly diminishing by battle and disease, and few recruits are received; the consequences are inevitable." By March 1865 conscription was to be administered by generals of the state reserves calling out men over 45 and under 18 years old. All exemptions were abolished. These regiments were assigned to recruit conscripts ages 17–50, recover deserters, and repel enemy cavalry raids. The service retained men who had lost but one arm or a leg in home guards. April 1865 Lee surrendered an army of 50,000. Conscription had been a failure.
The survival of the Confederacy depended on a strong base of civilians and soldiers devoted to victory. The soldiers performed well, though increasing numbers deserted in the last year of fighting, and the Confederacy never succeeded in replacing casualties as the Union could. The civilians, although enthusiastic in 1861–62, seem to have lost faith in the future of the Confederacy by 1864, and instead looked to protect their homes and communities. As Rable explains, "This contraction of civic vision was more than a crabbed libertarianism; it represented an increasingly widespread disillusionment with the Confederate experiment."
The American Civil War broke out in April 1861 with the Battle of Fort Sumter in Charleston. In December 1860, Federal troops had withdrawn to the island fort from others in Charleston Harbor soon after South Carolina's declaration of secession to avoid soldier-civilian street confrontations.
In January, President James Buchanan had attempted to resupply the garrison with the Star of the West, but Confederate artillery drove it away. In March, President Lincoln notified Governor Pickens that without Confederate resistance to resupply there would be no military reinforcement without further notice, but Lincoln prepared to force resupply if it were not allowed. Confederate President Davis in cabinet decided to capture Fort Sumter before the relief fleet arrived and on April 12, 1861, General Beauregard forced their surrender.
Following Fort Sumter, Lincoln directed states to provide 75,000 troops for three months to recapture the Charleston Harbor forts and all other federal property that had been seized without Congressional authorization. In May, Federal troops crossed into Confederate territory along the entire border from the Chesapeake Bay to New Mexico. The Confederate victory at Fort Sumter was followed by Confederate victories at the battles of Big Bethel, (Bethel Church) VA in June, First Bull Run, (First Manassas) in July and in August, Wilson's Creek, (Oak Hills) in southwest Missouri. At all three, Confederate forces could not follow up their victory due to inadequate supply and shortages of fresh troops to exploit their successes. Following each battle, Federals maintained a military presence and their occupation of Washington DC, Fort Monroe VA and Springfield MO. Both North and South began training up armies for major fighting the next year.
Confederate commerce-raiding just south of the Chesapeake Bay was ended in August at the loss of Hatteras NC. Early November a Union expedition at sea secured Port Royal and Beaufort SC south of Charleston, seizing Confederate-burned cotton fields along with escaped and owner-abandoned "contraband" field hands. December saw the loss of Georgetown SC north of Charleston. Federals there began a war-long policy of burning grain supplies up rivers into the interior wherever they could not occupy.
The victories of 1861 were followed by a series of defeats east and west in early 1862. To restore the Union by military force the Federal intent was to (1) secure the Mississippi River, (2) seize or close Confederate ports and (3) march on Richmond. To secure independence, the Confederate intent was to (1) repel the invader on all fronts, costing him blood and treasure and (2) carry the war into the north by two offensives in time to impact the mid-term elections.
Much of northwestern Virginia was under Federal control. In February and March, most of Missouri and Kentucky were Union "occupied, consolidated, and used as staging areas for advances further South". Following the repulse of Confederate counter-attack at the Battle of Shiloh, (Pittsburg Landing) Tennessee, permanent Federal occupation expanded west, south and east. Confederate forces then repositioned south along the Mississippi River to Memphis, where at the naval Battle of Memphis its River Defense Fleet was sunk and Confederates then withdrew from northern Mississippi and northern Alabama. New Orleans was captured April 29 by a combined Army-Navy force under U.S. Admiral Farragut, and the Confederacy lost control of the mouth of the Mississippi River, conceding large agricultural resources that supported the Union's sea-supplied logistics base.
Although Confederates had suffered major reverses everywhere but Virginia, as of the end of April the Confederacy still controlled 72% of its population. Federal forces disrupted Missouri and Arkansas; they had broken through in western Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Louisiana. Along the Confederacy's shores it had closed ports and made garrisoned lodgments on every coastal Confederate state but Alabama and Texas. Although scholars sometimes assess the Union blockade as ineffectual under international law until the last few months of the war, from the first months it disrupted Confederate privateers making it "almost impossible to bring their prizes into Confederate ports". Nevertheless, British firms developed small fleets of blockade running companies, such as John Fraser and Company and the Ordnance Department secured its own blockade runners for dedicated munitions cargos.
The Civil War saw the advent of fleets of armored warships deployed in sustained blockades at sea. After some success against the Union blockade, in March the ironclad CSS Virginia was forced into port and burned by Confederates at their retreat. Despite several attempts mounted from their port cities, C.S. naval forces were unable to break the Union blockade including Commodore Josiah Tattnall's ironclads from Savannah, in 1862 with the CSS Atlanta. Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory placed his hopes in a European-built ironclad fleet, but they were never realized. On the other hand, four new English-built commerce raiders saw Confederate service, and several fast blockade runners were sold in Confederate ports, then converted into commerce-raiding cruisers, manned by their British crews.
In the east, Union forces could not close on Richmond. General McClellan landed his army on the Lower Peninsula of Virginia. Lee subsequently ended that threat from the east, then Union General John Pope attacked overland from the north only to be repulsed at Second Bull Run, (Second Manassas). Lee's strike north was turned back at Antietam MD, then Burnside's offensive was disastrously ended at Fredericksburg VA in December. Both armies then turned to winter quarters to recruit and train for the coming spring.
In an attempt to seize the initiative, reprovision, protect farms in mid-growing season and influence U.S. Congressional elections, two major Confederate incursions into Union territory had been launched in August and September 1862. Both Braxton Bragg's invasion of Kentucky and Lee's invasion of Maryland were decisively repulsed, leaving Confederates in control of but 63% of its population. Civil War scholar Alan Nevins argues that 1862 was the strategic high-water mark of the Confederacy. The failures of the two invasions were attributed to the same irrecoverable shortcomings: lack of manpower at the front, lack of supplies including serviceable shoes, and exhaustion after long marches without adequate food.
The failed Middle Tennessee campaign was ended January 2, 1863 at the inconclusive Battle of Stones River, (Murfreesboro), both sides losing the largest percentage of casualties suffered during the war. It was followed by another strategic withdrawal by Confederate forces. The Confederacy won a significant victory April 1863, repulsing the Federal advance on Richmond at Chancellorsville, but the Union consolidated positions along the Virginia coast and the Chesapeake Bay.
Without an effective answer to Federal gunboats, river transport and supply, the Confederacy lost the Mississippi River following the capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Port Hudson in July, ending Southern access to the trans-Mississippi West. July brought short-lived counters, Morgan's Raid into Ohio and the New York City draft riots. Robert E. Lee's strike into Pennsylvania was repulsed at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania despite Pickett's famous charge and other acts of valor. Southern newspapers assessed the campaign as "The Confederates did not gain a victory, neither did the enemy."
September and November left Confederates yielding Chattanooga, Tennessee, the gateway to the lower south. For the remainder of the war fighting was restricted inside the South, resulting in a slow but continuous loss of territory. In early 1864, the Confederacy still controlled 53% of its population, but it withdrew further to reestablish defensive positions. Union offensives continued with Sherman's March to the Sea to take Savannah and Grant's Wilderness Campaign to encircle Richmond and besiege Lee's army at Petersburg.
In April 1863, the C.S. Congress authorized a uniformed Volunteer Navy, many of whom were British. Wilmington and Charleston had more shipping while "blockaded" than before the beginning of hostilities. The Confederacy had altogether eighteen commerce destroying cruisers, which seriously disrupted Federal commerce at sea and increased shipping insurance rates 900 percent. Commodore Tattnall unsuccessfully attempted to break the Union blockade on the Savannah River GA with an ironclad again in 1863. However beginning April 1864 the ironclad CSS Albemarle engaged Union gunboats and sank or cleared them for six months on the Roanoke River NC. The Federals closed Mobile Bay by sea-based amphibious assault in August, ending Gulf coast trade east of the Mississippi River. In December, the Battle of Nashville ended Confederate operations in the western theater.
The first three months of 1865 saw the Federal Carolinas Campaign, devastating a wide swath of the remaining Confederate heartland. The "breadbasket of the Confederacy" in the Great Valley of Virginia was occupied by Philip Sheridan. The Union Blockade captured Fort Fisher NC, and Sherman finally took Charleston SC by land attack.
The Confederacy controlled no ports, harbors or navigable rivers. Railroads were captured or had ceased operating. Its major food producing regions had been war-ravaged or occupied. Its administration survived in only three pockets of territory holding one-third its population. Its armies were defeated or disbanding. At the February 1865 Hampton Roads Conference with Lincoln, senior Confederate officials rejected his invitation to restore the Union with compensation for emancipated slaves. The Davis policy was independence or nothing, while Lee's army was wracked by disease and desertion, barely holding the trenches defending Jefferson Davis' capital.
The Confederacy's last remaining blockade-running port, Wilmington, North Carolina, was lost. When the Union broke through Lee's lines at Petersburg, Richmond fell immediately. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865. "The Surrender" marked the end of the Confederacy. The CSS Stonewall sailed from Europe to break the Union blockade in March; on making Havana, Cuba it surrendered. Some high officials escaped to Europe, but President Davis was captured May 10; all remaining Confederate forces surrendered by June 1865. The U.S. Army took control of the Confederate areas without post-surrender insurgency or guerrilla warfare against them, but peace was subsequently marred by a great deal of local violence, feuding and revenge killings.
Historian Gary Gallagher concluded that the Confederacy capitulated in the spring of 1865 because northern armies crushed "organized southern military resistance." The Confederacy's population, soldier and civilian, had suffered material hardship and social disruption. They had expended and extracted a profusion of blood and treasure until collapse; "the end had come". Jefferson Davis' assessment in 1890 determined, "With the capture of the capital, the dispersion of the civil authorities, the surrender of the armies in the field, and the arrest of the President, the Confederate States of America disappeared ... their history henceforth became a part of the history of the United States."
Historian Frank Lawrence Owsley argued that the Confederacy "died of states' rights." The central government was denied requisitioned soldiers and money by governors and state legislatures because they feared that Richmond would encroach on the rights of the states. Georgia's governor Joseph Brown warned of a secret conspiracy by Jefferson Davis to destroy states' rights and individual liberty. The first conscription act in North America authorizing Davis to draft soldiers was said to be the "essence of military despotism."
Vice President Alexander Stephens feared losing the very form of republican government. Allowing President Davis to threaten "arbitrary arrests" to draft hundreds of governor-appointed "bomb-proof" bureaucrats conferred "more power than the English Parliament had ever bestowed on the king. History proved the dangers of such unchecked authority." The abolishment of draft exemptions for newspaper editors was interpreted as an attempt by the Confederate government to muzzle presses, such as the Raleigh NC Standard, to control elections and to suppress the peace meetings there. As Rable concludes, "For Stephens, the essence of patriotism, the heart of the Confederate cause, rested on an unyielding commitment to traditional rights" without considerations of military necessity, pragmatism or compromise.
In 1863 governor Pendleton Murrah of Texas determined that state troops were required for defense against Plains Indians and Union successes advancing from the free state of Kansas. He refused to send them East. Governor Zebulon Vance of North Carolina showed intense opposition to conscription, limiting recruitment success. Vance's faith in states' rights drove him into repeated, stubborn opposition to the Davis administration.
Despite political differences within the Confederacy, no national political parties were formed because they were seen as illegitimate. "Anti-partyism became an article of political faith." Without a two-party system building alternative sets of national leaders, electoral protests tended to be narrowly state-based, "negative, carping and petty". The 1863 mid-term elections became mere expressions of futile and frustrated dissatisfaction. According to historian David M. Potter, this lack of a functioning two-party system caused "real and direct damage" to the Confederate war effort since it prevented the formulation of any effective alternatives to the conduct of the war by the Davis administration.
The enemies of President Davis proposed that the Confederacy "died of Davis." He was unfavorably compared to George Washington by critics such as E. A. Pollard, editor of the Richmond Examiner. Coulter summarizes, "The American Revolution had its Washington; the Southern Revolution had its Davis ... one succeeded and the other failed." Besides the early honeymoon period, Davis was never popular. He unwittingly caused much internal dissention from early on. His ill health and temporary bouts of blindness disabled him for days at a time.
Coulter says Davis was heroic and his will was indomitable. But his "tenacity, determination, and will power" stirred up lasting opposition of enemies Davis could not shake. He failed to overcome "petty leaders of the states" who made the term "Confederacy" into a label for tyranny and oppression, denying the "Stars and Bars" from becoming a symbol of larger patriotic service and sacrifice. Instead of campaigning to develop nationalism and gain support for his administration, he rarely courted public opinion, assuming an aloofness, "almost like an Adams".
Davis attended to too many details. He protected his friends after their failures were obvious. He spent too much time on military affairs versus his civil responsibilities. Coulter concludes he was not the ideal leader for the Southern Revolution, but he showed "fewer weaknesses than any other" contemporary character available for the role. Robert E. Lee's assessment of Davis as President was, "I knew of none that could have done as well."
The Southern leaders met in Montgomery, Alabama, to write their constitution. Much of the Confederate States Constitution replicated the United States Constitution verbatim, but it contained several explicit protections of the institution of slavery including provisions for the recognition and protection of negro slavery in any new state admitted to the Confederacy. It maintained the existing ban on international slave-trading while protecting the existing internal trade of slaves among slaveholding states.
In certain areas, the Confederate Constitution gave greater powers to the states (or curtailed the powers of the central government more) than the U.S. Constitution of the time did, but in other areas, the states actually lost rights they had under the U.S. Constitution. Although the Confederate Constitution, like the U.S. Constitution, contained a commerce clause, the Confederate version prohibited the central government from using revenues collected in one state for funding internal improvements in another state. The Confederate Constitution's equivalent to the U.S. Constitution's general welfare clause prohibited protective tariffs (but allowed tariffs for providing domestic revenue), and spoke of "carry[ing] on the Government of the Confederate States" rather than providing for the "general welfare". State legislatures had the power to impeach officials of the Confederate government in some cases. On the other hand, the Confederate Constitution contained a Necessary and Proper Clause and a Supremacy Clause that essentially duplicated the respective clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The Confederate Constitution also incorporated each of the 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution that had been ratified up to that point.
The Confederate Constitution did not specifically include a provision allowing states to secede; the Preamble spoke of each state "acting in its sovereign and independent character" but also of the formation of a "permanent federal government". During the debates on drafting the Confederate Constitution, one proposal would have allowed states to secede from the Confederacy. The proposal was tabled with only the South Carolina delegates voting in favor of considering the motion. The Confederate Constitution also explicitly denied States the power to bar slaveholders from other parts of the Confederacy from bringing their slaves into any state of the Confederacy or to interfere with the property rights of slave owners traveling between different parts of the Confederacy. In contrast with the language of the United States Constitution, the Confederate Constitution overtly asked God's blessing ("... invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God ...").
The Montgomery Convention to establish the Confederacy and its executive met February 4, 1861. Each state as a sovereignty had one vote, with the same delegation size as it held in the U.S. Congress, and generally 41 to 50 members attended. Offices were "provisional", limited to a term not to exceed one year. One name was placed in nomination for president, one for vice president. Both were elected unanimously, 6–0.
Jefferson Davis was elected provisional president. His U.S. Senate resignation speech greatly impressed with its clear rationale for secession and his pleading for a peaceful departure from the Union to independence. Although he had made it known that he wanted to be commander-in-chief of the Confederate armies, when elected, he assumed the office of Provisional President. Three candidates for provisional Vice President were under consideration the night before the February 9 election. All were from Georgia, and the various delegations meeting in different places determined two would not do, so Alexander Stephens was elected unanimously provisional Vice President, though with some privately held reservations. Stephens was inaugurated February 11, Davis February 18.
Davis and Stephens were elected President and Vice President, unopposed on November 6, 1861. They were inaugurated on February 22, 1862.
Historian E. M. Coulter observed, "No president of the U.S. ever had a more difficult task." Washington was inaugurated in peacetime. Lincoln inherited an established government of long standing. The creation of the Confederacy was accomplished by men who saw themselves as fundamentally conservative. Although they referred to their "Revolution", it was in their eyes more a counter-revolution against changes away from their understanding of U.S. founding documents. In Davis' inauguration speech, he explained the Confederacy was not a French-like revolution, but a transfer of rule. The Montgomery Convention had assumed all the laws of the United States until superseded by the Confederate Congress.
The Permanent Constitution provided for a President of the Confederate States of America, elected to serve a six-year term but without the possibility of re-election. Unlike the United States Constitution, the Confederate Constitution gave the president the ability to subject a bill to a line item veto, a power also held by some state governors.
The Confederate Congress could overturn either the general or the line item vetoes with the same two-thirds majorities that are required in the U.S. Congress. In addition, appropriations not specifically requested by the executive branch required passage by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress. The only person to serve as president was Jefferson Davis, due to the Confederacy being defeated before the completion of his term.
The only two "formal, national, functioning, civilian administrative bodies" in the Civil War South were the Jefferson Davis administration and the Confederate Congresses. The Confederacy was begun by the Provisional Congress in Convention at Montgomery, Alabama on February 28, 1861. It had one vote per state in a unicameral assembly.
The Permanent Confederate Congress was elected and began its first session February 18, 1862. The Permanent Congress for the Confederacy followed the United States forms with a bicameral legislature. The Senate had two per state, twenty-six Senators. The House numbered 106 representatives apportioned by free and slave populations within each state. Two Congresses sat in six sessions until March 18, 1865.
The political influences of the civilian, soldier vote and appointed representatives reflected divisions of political geography of a diverse South. These in turn changed over time relative to Union occupation and disruption, the war impact on local economy, and the course of the war. Without political parties, key candidate identification related to adopting secession before or after Lincoln's call for volunteers to retake Federal property. Previous party affiliation played a part in voter selection, predominantly secessionist Democrat or unionist Whig.
The absence of political parties made individual roll call voting all the more important, as the Confederate "freedom of roll-call voting [was] unprecedented in American legislative history. Key issues throughout the life of the Confederacy related to (1) suspension of habeas corpus, (2) military concerns such as control of state militia, conscription and exemption, (3) economic and fiscal policy including impressment of slaves, goods and scorched earth, and (4) support of the Jefferson Davis administration in its foreign affairs and negotiating peace.
For the first year, the unicameral Provisional Confederate Congress functioned as the Confederacy's legislative branch.
President of the Provisional Congress
Presidents pro tempore of the Provisional Congress
Sessions of the Confederate Congress
Tribal Representatives to Confederate Congress
The Confederate Constitution outlined a judicial branch of the government, but the ongoing war and resistance from states-rights advocates, particularly on the question of whether it would have appellate jurisdiction over the state courts, prevented the creation or seating of the "Supreme Court of the Confederate States;" the state courts generally continued to operate as they had done, simply recognizing the Confederate States as the national government.
Confederate district courts were authorized by Article III, Section 1, of the Confederate Constitution, and President Davis appointed judges within the individual states of the Confederate States of America. In many cases, the same US Federal District Judges were appointed as Confederate States District Judges. Confederate district courts began reopening in the spring of 1861 handling many of the same type cases as had been done before. Prize cases, in which Union ships were captured by the Confederate Navy or raiders and sold through court proceedings, were heard until the blockade of southern ports made this impossible. After a Sequestration Act was passed by the Confederate Congress, the Confederate district courts heard many cases in which enemy aliens (typically Northern absentee landlords owning property in the South) had their property sequestered (seized) by Confederate Receivers.
When the matter came before the Confederate court, the property owner could not appear because he was unable to travel across the front lines between Union and Confederate forces. Thus, the District Attorney won the case by default, the property was typically sold, and the money used to further the Southern war effort. Eventually, because there was no Confederate Supreme Court, sharp attorneys like South Carolina's Edward McCrady began filing appeals. This prevented their clients' property from being sold until a supreme court could be constituted to hear the appeal, which never occurred. Where Federal troops gained control over parts of the Confederacy and re-established civilian government, US district courts sometimes resumed jurisdiction.
Supreme Court – not established.
District Courts – judges
When the Confederacy was formed and its seceding states broke from the Union, it was at once confronted with the arduous task of providing its citizens with a mail delivery system, and, in the midst of the American Civil War, the newly formed Confederacy created and established the Confederate Post Office. One of the first undertakings in establishing the Post Office was the appointment of John H. Reagan to the position of Postmaster General, by Jefferson Davis in 1861, making him the first Postmaster General of the Confederate Post Office as well as a member of Davis' presidential cabinet. Through Reagan's resourcefulness and remarkable industry, he had his department assembled, organized and in operation before the other Presidential cabinet members had their departments fully operational.
When the war began, the US Post Office still delivered mail from the secessionist states for a brief period of time. Mail that was postmarked after the date of a state's admission into the Confederacy through May 31, 1861, and bearing US postage was still delivered. After this time, private express companies still managed to carry some of the mail across enemy lines. Later, mail that crossed lines had to be sent by 'Flag of Truce' and was allowed to pass at only two specific points. Mail sent from the South to the North states was received, opened and inspected at Fortress Monroe on the Virginia coast before being passed on into the U.S. mail stream. Mail sent from the North to the South passed at City Point, also in Virginia, where it was also inspected before being sent on.
With the chaos of the war, a working postal system was more important than ever for the Confederacy. The Civil War had divided family members and friends and consequently letter writing naturally increased dramatically across the entire divided nation, especially to and from the men who were away serving in an army. Mail delivery was also important for the Confederacy for a myriad of business and military reasons. Because of the Union blockade, basic supplies were always in demand and so getting mailed correspondence out of the country to suppliers was imperative to the successful operation of the Confederacy. Volumes of material have been written about the Blockade runners who evaded Union ships on blockade patrol, usually at night, and who moved cargo and mail in and out of the Confederate States throughout the course of the war. Of particular interest to students and historians of the American Civil War is Prisoner of War mail and Blockade mail as these items were often involved with a variety of military and other war time activities. The postal history of the Confederacy along with surviving Confederate mail has helped historians document the various people, places and events that were involved in the American Civil War as it unfolded.
The Confederacy actively used the army to arrest people suspected of loyalty to the United States. Historian Mark Neely found 4,108 names of men arrested and estimated a much larger total. The Confederacy arrested pro-Union civilians in the South at about the same rate as the Union arrested pro-Confederate civilians in the North. Neely concludes:
Most whites were subsistence farmers who traded their surpluses locally. The plantations of the South, with white ownership and an enslaved labor force, produced substantial wealth from cash crops. It supplied two-thirds of the world's cotton, which was in high demand for textiles, along with tobacco, sugar, and naval stores (such as turpentine). These raw materials were exported to factories in Europe and the Northeast. Planters reinvested their profits in more slaves and fresh land, for cotton and tobacco depleted the soil. There was little manufacturing or mining; shipping was controlled by outsiders.
The plantations that employed over three million black slaves were the principal source of wealth, but those slaves were also the source of general tension and white racial solidarity. William Freehling and Steven A. Channing have documented the race-based system of enslavement as "prone to insurrection and racial upheaval" inside the South, and by midcentury, its maintenance there was coming under increasing attacks from outside.
Slave labor was applied in industry in a limited way in the Upper South and in a few port cities. One reason for the regional lag in industrial development was "top-heavy income distribution". Mass production requires mass markets, and slave-labor living in packed-earth cabins, using self-made tools and outfitted with one suit of work clothes each year of inferior fabric, did not generate consumer demand to sustain local manufactures of any description in the same way a mechanized family farm of free labor did in the North. The Southern economy was "pre-capitalist" in that slaves were employed in the largest revenue producing enterprises, not free labor. That labor system as practiced in the American South encompassed paternalism, whether abusive or indulgent, and that meant labor management considerations apart from productivity.
Approximately 85% of both North and South white populations lived on family farms, both regions were predominantly agricultural, and mid-century industry in both was mostly domestic. But the Southern economy was uniquely pre-capitalist in its overwhelming reliance on the agriculture of cash crops to produce wealth. Southern cities and industries grew faster than ever before, but the thrust of the rest of the country's exponential growth elsewhere was toward urban industrial development along transportation systems of canals and railroads. The South was following the dominant currents of the American economic mainstream, but at a "great distance" as it lagged in the all-weather modes of transportation that brought cheaper, speedier freight shipment and forged new, expanding inter-regional markets.
A third count of southern pre-capitalist economy relates to the cultural setting. The South and southerners did not adopt a frenzied work ethic, nor the habits of thrift that marked the rest of the country. It had access to the tools of capitalism, but it did not adopt its culture. The Southern Cause as a national economy in the Confederacy was grounded in "slavery and race, planters and patricians, plain folk and folk culture, cotton and plantations".
The Confederacy started its existence as an agrarian economy with exports, to a world market, of cotton, and, to a lesser extent, tobacco and sugarcane. Local food production included grains, hogs, cattle, and gardens. The cash came from exports but the Southern people spontaneously stopped exports in spring 1861 to hasten the impact of "King Cotton." When the blockade was announced, commercial shipping practically ended (the ships could not get insurance), and only a trickle of supplies came via blockade runners.
The 11 states had produced $155 million in manufactured goods in 1860, chiefly from local grist-mills, and lumber, processed tobacco, cotton goods and naval stores such as turpentine. The main industrial areas were border cities such as Baltimore, Wheeling, Louisville and St. Louis, that were never under Confederate control.
The Confederacy adopted a tariff of 15 per cent, but imposed it on all imports from other countries, including the United States. The tariff mattered little; the Union blockade minimized commercial traffic through the Confederacy's ports, and very few people paid taxes on goods smuggled from the North. The Confederate government in its entire history collected only $3.5 million in tariff revenue. The lack of adequate financial resources led the Confederacy to finance the war through printing money, which led to high inflation. The Confederacy underwent an economic revolution by centralization and standardization, but it was too little too late as its economy was systematically strangled by blockade and raids.
In peacetime, the extensive and connected systems of navigable rivers and coastal access allowed for cheap and easy transportation of agricultural products. The railroad system in the South had been built as a supplement to the navigable rivers to enhance the all-weather shipment of cash crops to market. They tied plantation areas to the nearest river or seaport and so made supply more dependable, lowered costs and increased profits. In the event of invasion, the vast geography of the Confederacy made logistics difficult for the Union. Wherever Union armies invaded, they assigned many of their soldiers to garrison captured areas and to protect rail lines.
At onset of the Civil War, the Southern rail network was disjointed and plagued by change in track gauge as well as lack of interchange. Locomotives and freight cars had fixed axles and could not roll on tracks of different gauges (widths). Railroads of different gauges leading to the same city required all freight to be off-loaded onto wagons to be transported to the connecting railroad station where it would await freight cars and a locomotive to proceed. These included Vicksburg, New Orleans, Montgomery, Wilmington and Richmond. In addition, most rail lines led from coastal or river ports to inland cities, with few lateral railroads. Due to this design limitation, the relatively primitive railroads of the Confederacy were unable to overcome the Union Naval Blockade of the South's crucial intra-coastal and river routes.
The Confederacy had no plan to expand, protect or encourage its railroads. Refusal to export the cotton crop in 1861 left railroads bereft of their main source of income. Many lines had to lay off employees; many critical skilled technicians and engineers were permanently lost to military service. For the early years of the war, the Confederate government had a hands-off approach to the railroads. Only in mid-1863 did the Confederate government initiate an national policy, and it was confined solely to aiding the war effort. Railroads came under the de facto control of the military. In contrast, U.S. Congress had authorized military administration of railroad and telegraph January 1862, imposed a standard gauge, and built railroads into the South using that gauge. Confederate reoccupation of territory by successful armies could not be resupplied directly by rail as they advanced. The C.S. Congress formally authorized military administration of railroads in February 1865.
In the last year before the end of the war, the Confederate railroad system stood permanently on the verge of collapse. There was no new equipment and raids on both sides systematically destroyed key bridges, as well as locomotives and freight cars. Spare parts were cannibalized; feeder lines were torn up to get replacement rails for trunk lines, and the heavy use of rolling stock wore them out.
The army was always short of horses and mules, and requisitioned them with dubious promissory notes from local farmers and breeders. Union forces paid in real money and found ready sellers in the South. Horses were needed for cavalry and artillery. Mules pulled the wagons. The supply was undermined by an unprecedented epidemic of glanders, a fatal disease that baffled veterinarians. After 1863 the policy of the Union Army was to shoot all the horses and mules it did not need to keep them out of Confederate hands. The army and farmers experienced a growing shortage of horses and mules, which hurt the economy and the Confederate war effort. The South lost half its 2.5 million horses and mules; many farmers ended the war with none left. Army horses were used up by hard work, malnourishment, disease and battle wounds; their life expectancy was about seven months.
Both the individual Confederate states and later the Confederate government printed Confederate States of America dollars as paper currency worth $1.5 billion in various denominations. Much of it was signed by the Treasurer Edward C. Elmore. Inflation became rampant as the paper money depreciated and eventually became worthless. The state governments and some localities printed their own paper money, adding to the runaway inflation. Many bills still exist, although in recent years fake copies have proliferated.
The Confederate government initially wanted to finance its war mostly through tariffs on imports, export taxes, and voluntary donations of gold. However, after the spontaneous imposition of an embargo on cotton sales to Europe in 1861, these sources of revenue dried up and the Confederacy increasingly turned to issuing debt and printing money to pay for war expenses. The Confederate States politicians were worried about angering the general population with hard taxes. A tax increase might disillusion many Southerners, so the Confederacy resorted to printing more money. As a result inflation increased and remained a problem for the southern states throughout the rest of the war.
At the time of their secession, the states (and later the Confederate government) took over the national mints in their territories: the Charlotte Mint in North Carolina, the Dahlonega Mint in Georgia, and the New Orleans Mint in Louisiana. During 1861, the first two produced small amounts of gold coinage, the latter half dollars. Since the mints used the current dies on hand, these issues remain indistinguishable from those minted by the Union. However, in New Orleans the Confederacy did use its own reverse design to strike four half dollars. Since these have a small die break on the obverse, which is also seen on some of the regular 1861-O coins, it is possible that these were minted under CSA authority.][
By summer 1861, the Union naval blockade virtually shut down the export of cotton and the import of manufactured goods. Food that formerly came overland was cut off. In response, the governor and legislature pleaded with planters to grow less cotton and more food.][ Most refused, some believing that the Yankees would not or could not fight. When cotton prices soared in Europe, expectations were that Europe would soon intervene to break the blockade. Neither proved true and the myth of omnipotent "King Cotton" died hard. The Georgia legislature imposed cotton quotas, making it a crime to grow an excess. But food shortages only worsened, especially in the towns.
The overall decline in food supplies, made worse by the inadequate transportation system, led to serious shortages and high prices in urban areas. When bacon reached a dollar a pound in 1864, the poor women of Richmond, Atlanta and many other cities began to riot; they broke into shops and warehouses to seize food. The women expressed their anger at ineffective state relief efforts, speculators, and merchants and planters. As wives and widows of soldiers they were hurt by the inadequate welfare system.
By the end of the war deterioration of the Southern infrastructure was widespread. The number of civilian deaths is unknown. Most of the war was fought in Virginia and Tennessee, but every Southern state was affected as well as Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Indian Territory. Texas and Florida saw the least military action. Much of the damage was caused by military action, but most was caused by lack of repairs and upkeep, and by deliberately using up resources. Historians have recently estimated how much of the devastation was caused by military action. Military operations were conducted in 56% of 645 counties in nine Confederate states (excluding Texas and Florida). These counties contained 63% of the 1860 white population and 64% of the slaves. By the time the fighting took place, undoubtedly some people had fled to safer areas, so the exact population exposed to war is unknown.
The eleven Confederate states in the 1860 census had 297 towns and cities with 835,000 people; of these 162 with 681,000 people were at one point occupied by Union forces. Eleven were destroyed or severely damaged by war action, including Atlanta (with an 1860 population of 9,600), Charleston, Columbia, and Richmond (with prewar populations of 40,500, 8,100, and 37,900, respectively); the eleven contained 115,900 people in the 1860 census, or 14% of the urban South. Historians have not estimated what their actual population was when Union forces arrived. The number of people (as of 1860) who lived in the destroyed towns represented just over 1% of the Confederacy's 1860 population. In addition, 45 court houses were burned (out of 830). The South's agriculture was not highly mechanized. The value of farm implements and machinery in the 1860 Census was $81 million; by 1870, there was 40% less, worth just $48 million. Many old tools had broken through heavy use; new tools were rarely available; even repairs were difficult.
The economic losses affected everyone. Banks and insurance companies were mostly bankrupt. Confederate currency and bonds were worthless. The billions of dollars invested in slaves vanished. However, most debts were left behind. Most farms were intact but most had lost their horses, mules and cattle; fences and barns were in disrepair. Paskoff shows the loss of farm infrastructure was about the same whether or not fighting took place nearby. The loss of infrastructure and productive capacity meant that rural widows throughout the region faced not only the absence of able-bodied men, but a depleted stock of material resources that they could manage and operate themselves. During four years of warfare, disruption, and blockades, the South used up about half its capital stock. The North, by contrast, absorbed its material losses so effortlessly that it appeared richer at the end of the war than at the beginning.
The rebuilding would take years and was hindered by the low price of cotton after the war. Outside investment was essential, especially in railroads. One historian has summarized the collapse of the transportation infrastructure needed for economic recovery:
About 250,000 men never came home, or 30% of all white men aged 18 to 40, in 1860. Widows who were overwhelmed often abandoned the farm and merged into the households of relatives, or even became refugees living in camps with high rates of disease and death. In the Old South, being an "old maid" was something of an embarrassment to the woman and her family. Now it became almost a norm. Some women welcomed the freedom of not having to marry. Divorce, while never fully accepted, became more common. The concept of the "New Woman" emerged—she was self-sufficient, independent, and stood in sharp contrast to the "Southern Belle" of antebellum lore.
1st National Flag
[7-, 11-, 13-stars]
"Stars and Bars"
2nd National Flag
3rd National Flag
"Blood Stained Banner"
CSA Naval Jack
CSA Naval Jack
Bonnie Blue Flag
Unofficial Southern Flag
in some army units
The first official flag of the Confederate States of America—called the "Stars and Bars" – originally had seven stars, representing the first seven states that initially formed the Confederacy. As more states joined, more stars were added, until the total was 13 (two stars were added for the divided states of Kentucky and Missouri). However, during the First Battle of Bull Run, (First Manassas) it sometimes proved difficult to distinguish the Stars and Bars from the Union flag. To rectify the situation, a separate "Battle Flag" was designed for use by troops in the field. Also known as the "Southern Cross", many variations sprang from the original square configuration. Although it was never officially adopted by the Confederate government, the popularity of the Southern Cross among both soldiers and the civilian population was a primary reason why it was made the main color feature when a new national flag was adopted in 1863. This new standard—known as the "Stainless Banner" – consisted of a lengthened white field area with a Battle Flag canton. This flag too had its problems when used in military operations as, on a windless day, it could easily be mistaken for a flag of truce or surrender. Thus, in 1865, a modified version of the Stainless Banner was adopted. This final national flag of the Confederacy kept the Battle Flag canton, but shortened the white field and added a vertical red bar to the fly end.
Because of its depiction in the 20th-century][ and popular media, many people consider the rectangular battle flag with the dark blue bars as being synonymous with "the Confederate Flag". This flag, however, was never adopted as a Confederate national flag. The "Confederate Flag" has a color scheme similar to the official Battle Flag, but is rectangular, not square. (Its design and shape matches the Naval Jack, but the blue bars are darker.) The "Confederate Flag" is the most recognized symbol of the South in the United States today, and continues to be a controversial icon.
The Confederate States of America claimed a total of 2,919 miles (4,698 km) of coastline, thus a large part of its territory lay on the seacoast with level and often sandy or marshy ground. Most of the interior portion consisted of arable farmland, though much was also hilly and mountainous, and the far western territories were deserts. The lower reaches of the Mississippi River bisected the country, with the western half often referred to as the Trans-Mississippi. The highest point (excluding Arizona and New Mexico) was Guadalupe Peak in Texas at 8,750 feet (2,670 m).
Much of the area claimed by the Confederate States of America had a humid subtropical climate with mild winters and long, hot, humid summers. The climate and terrain varied from vast swamps (such as those in Florida and Louisiana) to semi-arid steppes and arid deserts west of longitude 100 degrees west. The subtropical climate made winters mild but allowed infectious diseases to flourish. Consequently, on both sides more soldiers died from disease than were killed in combat, a fact hardly atypical of pre–World War I conflicts.
The United States Census of 1860 gives a picture of the overall 1860 population of the areas that joined the Confederacy. Note that population-numbers exclude non-assimilated Indian tribes.
(Figures for Virginia include the future West Virginia.)
(Rows may not total to 100% due to rounding)
In 1860 the areas that later formed the 11 Confederate States (and including the future West Virginia) had 132,760 (1.46%) free blacks. Males made up 49.2% of the total population and females 50.8% (whites: 48.60% male, 51.40% female; slaves: 50.15% male, 49.85% female; free blacks: 47.43% male, 52.57% female).
The area claimed by the Confederate States of America consisted overwhelmingly of rural land. Few urban areas had populations of more than 1,000 – the typical county seat had a population of fewer than 500 people. Cities were rare. Of the twenty largest U.S. cities in the 1860 census, only New Orleans lay in Confederate territory – and the Union captured New Orleans in 1862. Only 13 Confederate-controlled cities ranked among the top 100 U.S. cities in 1860, most of them ports whose economic activities vanished or suffered severely in the Union blockade. The population of Richmond swelled after it became the Confederate capital, reaching an estimated 128,000 in 1864. Other Southern cities in the Border slave-holding states such as Baltimore MD, Washington DC, Wheeling VA/WV and Alexandria VA, Louisville KY, and St. Louis MO, never came under the control of the Confederate government.
The cities of the Confederacy included most prominently in order of size of population:
(See also Atlanta in the Civil War, Charleston, South Carolina, in the Civil War, Nashville in the Civil War, New Orleans in the Civil War, Wilmington, North Carolina, in the American Civil War, and Richmond in the Civil War).
Military leaders of the Confederacy (with their state or country of birth and highest rank) included:
Confederacy in Latin America & abroad
Confederacy in popular culture
Confederacy at war
Missouri in the American Civil War
The New Mexico Campaign was a military operation of the American Civil War from February to April 1862 in which Confederate Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley invaded the northern New Mexico Territory in an attempt to gain control of the Southwest, including the gold fields of Colorado and the ports of California. Historians regard this campaign as the most ambitious Confederate attempt to establish control of the American West and to open an additional theater in the war. It was an important campaign in the war's Trans-Mississippi Theater, and one of the major events in the history of the New Mexico Territory in the American Civil War.
The Confederates advanced north along the Rio Grande from Fort Bliss in Texas. They won the Battle of Valverde but failed to capture Fort Craig or force the surrender of the main Union Army in the territory. They continued north across the border towards Santa Fe and Fort Union, leaving that Union force in their rear. At Glorieta Pass, the Confederates defeated another Union force from Fort Union, but were forced to retreat following the destruction of the wagon train containing most of their supplies.
Confederate success in this campaign would have denied the Union a major source of the gold and silver necessary to finance its war effort, and the Union navy would have had the additional difficulty of attempting to blockade several hundred miles of coastline in the Pacific. A Confederate victory would have also diverted Union troops which, following the invasion, were used to fight Native American tribes on the plains and in the Rockies.
Union forces in the Department of New Mexico were led by Colonel Edward Canby, who headquartered at Fort Craig. Under his immediate command at the fort were five regiments of New Mexico volunteer infantry, a company of the 2nd Colorado Infantry, two provisional artillery units, eleven companies of the 5th, 7th, and 10th U.S. Infantry, six companies of the 2nd and 3rd U.S. Cavalry, and two regiments New Mexico militia. At Fort Union, under the command of Colonel Gabriel Paul, were the 1st Colorado Infantry, a company of the 2nd Colorado Infantry, a battalion of the 5th U.S. Infantry Regiment, a detachment from the 1st and 3rd U.S. Cavalry, a company of the 4th New Mexico Infantry, and two provisional artillery batteries.][
The Confederate Army of New Mexico was led by Brigadier General Henry Hopkins Sibley. His units included the 4th Texas Mounted Rifles and 5th Texas Mounted Rifles (both of which had batteries of mountain howitzers), five companies of the 7th Texas Mounted Rifles, six companies of the 2nd Texas Mounted Rifles (which also had an artillery battery attached), and several companies of Arizona Confederate mounted volunteers. Following his arrival in New Mexico in January, Sibley organized his artillery into a battalion under the command of Captain Trevanion Teel, whom he promoted to major. Five additional companies of the 7th Texas arrived near the end of February and served as the garrison of Fort Thorn at Mesilla.][
For years, residents in the southern part of the New Mexico Territory had been complaining that the territorial government in Santa Fe was too far away to properly address their concerns. The withdrawal of the Regular army at the beginning of the war confirmed to the residents that they were being abandoned. Secession conventions in Mesilla and Tucson voted to join the territory to the Confederacy in March 1861, and formed militia companies to defend themselves. In July 1861, Lieutenant Colonel John Baylor led of a battalion of Texas mounted rifles into the southern portion of the New Mexico Territory, entering Mesilla and repulsing the attack of the Union garrison of Fort Filmore at the Battle of Mesilla. The victorious Baylor established the Confederate Territory of Arizona south of the 34th parallel.][
The 1862 campaign was a continuation of this strategy formulated by Sibley in a plan presented to Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Sibley's strategy called for an invasion along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, seizing the Colorado Territory (then at the height of the Colorado Gold Rush) and Fort Laramie (the most important United States Army garrison along the Oregon Trail), before turning westward to attack the mineral-rich Nevada and California. He planned to take minimal supplies along with him, intending to live off the land and to capture the stockpiles of supplies at Union forts and depots along the Santa Fe Trail. Once these territories had been secured, Sibley intended to take the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Sonora, and Lower California, either through purchase or by invasion.
On December 20, 1861, General Sibley, in command of the Army of New Mexico, issued a proclamation taking possession of New Mexico in the name of the Confederate States. He called on the citizens to abandon their allegiance to the Union and to join the Confederacy, warning that those "who co-operate with the enemy will be treated accordingly, and must be prepared to share their fate." In February 1862, Sibley advanced northward from Fort Thorn up the valley of the Rio Grande, toward the territorial capital of Santa Fe and the Union storehouses at Fort Union. Along the way, Sibley detached 54 men to occupy Tucson. The Confederate advance followed the west bank of the river via Fort Craig, which was garrisoned by a 3,800-man Union force under Canby. Knowing he could not leave such a large Union force behind him as he advanced, Sibley attempted to lure the Union forces out into battle on favorable terms.
On February 19, Sibley camped at the sandhills east of the fort with the intention of cutting the Union lines of communications with Santa Fe. On February 20, the Union forces advanced from the fort but were hit with heavy Confederate artillery and were forced to retreat. The next day the Confederates marched to Valverde Ford, six miles (10 km) north of the fort, in an attempt to outflank the Union forces. Canby attacked, but the Union forces were driven back by the Confederates under Colonel Thomas Green, who took command after Sibley was indisposed (some say of drunkenness). Canby's forces retreated to Fort Craig but refused to surrender.
Since he had only enough rations for three days, Sibley could not attempt a siege nor retreat back to Mesilla. Instead, he chose to disengage from the fort and continued slowly northward towards Santa Fe, on the other side of the border in New Mexico Territory. Hoping to reach the supplies located there and also to cut Fort Craig's lines of supplies and communications. Due to the loss of horses at Valverde, the 4th Texas had to be dismounted, with the remaining horses, already in a weakened state, distributed among the other units. They also had lost much of their transportation in the battle at Valverde, causing them to carry the wounded. All this caused the column to travel slower than it could have. Canby meanwhile attempted to trap Sibley's army between his own force and Fort Union. He disbanded his militia and most of the volunteer units, and sent most of his mounted units northward to act as partisans and to "obstruct [Sibley's] movements if he should advance, and cut off his supplies, by removing from his route the cattle, grain, and other supplies in private hands that would aid him in sustaining his force."
Starting on February 23, the Confederate forces reached Albuquerque on March 2 and Santa Fe on March 13, but due to their slow advance they failed to capture most of the Union supplies located at these cities. The slow advance also allowed reinforcements from Colorado under the command of Colonel John Slough to reach Fort Union. Since he had been commissioned colonel before Paul was commissioned the same rank, Slough claimed seniority and took command of the fort. Canby had already ordered Paul to "not move from Fort Union to meet me until I advise you of the route and point of junction." After learning of the change in command, Canby told Slough to "advise me of your plans and movements, that I may cooperate." He also instructed Slough to "harass the enemy by partisan operations. Obstruct his movements and cut off his supplies." Slough interpreted this as an authorization to advance, which he did with 1,342 men from the fort's garrison. The Union and Confederate forces meet at the Battle of Glorieta Pass on March 28. The Confederates were able to push the Union force through the pass, but had to retreat following the destruction of their wagon train, which contained nearly all of their supplies and ammunition. Sibley pulled his army back to Albuquerque to await reinforcements from Texas. Slough, receiving orders from Canby to return immediately to Fort Union, also retreated, fearing a court martial if he disobeyed this order. Once he arrived at the fort, he resigned his commission and returned to Colorado, leaving Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Tappan in command of the regiment and Paul in command of the fort.
Canby initially ordered the Union force to retreat back to Fort Union, but after discovering the weakness of the Confederates he ordered a concentration of Union forces; small garrisons were left at Forts Craig and Union, and the main forces were to rendezvous near Albuquerque. With limited supplies and ammunition and outnumbered, Sibley choose to retreat to Texas, leaving Albuquerque on April 12 after a small fight a few days earlier. On April 14, Canby encountered the Confederates at Peralta, where the armies skirmished until 2:00 p.m. when a sandstorm permitted the Confederates to withdraw. The retreat continued through Mesilla to San Antonio, during which hundreds of Confederates straggled and fell behind. A rearguard of four companies of the 7th Texas and several companies of Arizona Confederates (consolidated under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Philemon Herbert as the 1st Arizona Mounted Rifles Battalion) was left at Fort Thorn, commanded by Colonel William Steele. These forces, heavily outnumbered by Union units arriving from California and Kansas, retreated to Texas in early July.
Following the Confederate retreat, units from the Union California Column under the command of Colonel James Carleton occupied several forts in western Texas. Canby was promoted to brigadier general and reassigned to the eastern theater. He was succeeded as commander of the department by Carleton, who was also promoted to brigadier general. The best men from the New Mexico volunteers were formed into the 1st New Mexico Cavalry with Kit Carson in command; the regiment spent the rest of the war fighting Indian tribes in the territory.][
Although the Confederates continued to consider Arizona part of the Confederacy and made several plans for another invasion, they were never able to put these plans into execution. Sibley's brigade would be called by many the "Arizona Brigade" and continued to serve in various areas in Texas and Louisiana during the remainder of the war. Sibley would eventually be demoted to directing supply trains in 1863.][
Approximately 678 acres (2.74 km2) of the Glorieta Pass battlefield are today protected in the Pigeon's Ranch and Canoncito units of the Pecos National Historical Park near Interstate 25. The Valverde battlefield is no longer preserved in its original state, and the only commemoration of the battle is a marker erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy near U.S. Route 85 in 1936.][
The campaign is part of the backdrop for the 1966 motion picture The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Decision Games has published two games dealing with the events of the campaign, both in Strategy & Tactics magazine. The first, Rio Grande: The Battle of Valverde, published in issue 143 and designed by Richard Berg and Dave Arneson. The second game was The Civil War in the Far West: The New Mexico Campaign, 1862, published in 2008's issue 252, covered the entire campaign and was designed by Charles Diamond.][