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7 Interesting Facts about the American Civil War

American Civil War

The following are seven interesting facts that you may or may not know about the American Civil War.

Fact 1: The American Civil War was also known as the “The War Between the States.” The war was fought between the United States of America (Union) and the Confederate States of America (Confederacy). The latter was a collection of 11 southern states that left the Union in 1860 and 1861 and formed their own republic. The Confederacy wanted to protect their states’ rights and the institution of slavery. In 1865, after four years of battle, the Union overcame the Confederacy and abolished slavery nation-wide.

Fact 2: The Union Army was a multinational one. Irish and German soldiers constituted nearly 18 per cent of the army, while the French, Polish, Italian, English, and Scottish nationalities were also well represented. One out of every four regiments was dominated by foreigners. African-Americans were allowed to join the Union Army in 1863 and many feel that this move turned the tide towards the Union. However, this wasn’t all smooth sailing as we will learn in Fact 3.

Fact 3: The highest-paid African-American soldier earned a net of about US$ 7 which was about half the US$ 13 received by the lowest-paid white soldier. The African-Americans protested this inequality and the pressure persuaded the Congress to look into the pay structure. In September 1864, African-American soldiers received equal pay, which meant that they could finally save some money to send to their families.

Fact 4: Officers from both sides took the phrase “leading by example” very seriously. Many, including generals, literally led their soldiers into battle, which meant that they were more likely to die than the privates. At the Battle of Antietam, three generals were killed and six were wounded.

Fact 5: Approximately 625,000 men died in the American Civil War. What’s so significant about the number? That is more than the combined American fatalities in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Bullets and bombs were the primary weapons of destruction but there was another big threat – disease. Camps became breeding grounds for mumps, chicken pox, and measles and about a million Union soldiers contracted malaria.

Fact 6:  At the onset of the Civil War, 22 million people lived in the North; nine million people lived in the South, of which four million were slaves.  The North had more money, railroads, horses, etc., and was much more powerful than the Confederacy. However, the latter possessed a more skilled army, which enabled them to resist for as long as they did. 

Fact 7:  As the outcome of the war seemed inevitable and before the Confederate states were re-admitted to the United States, the Union added the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the American Constitution.  The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, the 14th Amendment guaranteed “equal protection under the law” for every citizen, and the 15th Amendment granted African-American men the right to vote. 

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