Civil War Facts

An Eclectic Collection Of Civil War Facts

Depending on one's perspective, there are enough Civil War facts, both highly publicized and obscure to keep a scholar busy for a lifetime sorting things out. One of the best sources of information on this blood war is Shelby Foote's 3-volume treatise on the Civil War. Almost every one of the several thousand pages contains at least one fact that is either interesting, important, or in some cases unusual or amusing.

A Regiment Of Namesakes - Some Civil War facts deal with the bloody battles that were fought and the terrible loss of life. Others are rather mundane, and not a few are on the numerous side. As one example, there was a Northern gentleman with a rather common name who decided to form a regiment of soldiers, all of whom had the same name. There were probably enough people with that name out there, but the history books don't mention any such regiment ever being formed.

President Lincoln was led to believe that the first Battle of Bull Run would be decisive, and a Union victory there would likely end the war within weeks. In spite of the fact that a Union force of 75.000 troops was recruited for the battle, the Confederate forces prevailed and the war lasted another 4 years.

Obscure Battles - If one delves deeply enough into Civil War facts, one can read about battles fought in Texas, New Mexico, and even Nevada, the latter two being places we don't usually associate with the Civil War. The battles were not large and did not have a significant affect on the overall outcome, but it was not unusual to find a group of Confederate sympathizers in close proximity to a group of Union sympathizers in many places, which often resulted in a pitched battle. There were even pockets of Union sympathizers in the Deep South.

Teacher Gives Student A Lesson - Many Civil War facts are filled with irony. The commander of Fort Sumter, South Carolina, where the first shots of the war were fired, was Major Robert Anderson. Major Anderson was a graduate of West Point and a highly regarded officer. One of his teachers, and the one who taught him the basics of artillery, was General P. G. T. Beauregard, the Confederate officer in charge of the shelling of Fort Sumter.

Loyalties - Another West Point graduate, General Robert E. Lee, served in the United States Army up to the time the war broke out, and was regarded as one of the Army's finest officers. It was Lee's attachment to and loyalty towards his home state of Virginia that caused him to throw his lot with the Confederacy. Civil War facts reveal many instances in which an individual's loyalty to his state was stronger than his loyalty to the country as a whole, a remnant of colonial and revolutionary times.

Politics - The Civil War wasn't an attempt by the South to leave the Union for the sole purpose of setting up a new country. It was more due to fears by southerners that the North was gaining more and more power in the Congress, especially as new states were being added to the Union that were free states and not slave states. There were cultural differences as well. The population in the North was largely urban while that of the South was mostly agrarian. While customs were often different, it was mainly a perceived shift in political power that touched off the war. The South feared that with the election of Abraham Lincoln the US government would move to abolish slavery and attempt to force the South into adopting the economic policies of the North. The South was very much in favor of individual states' rights while the North favored a stronger central government.


Major Battles - If one chronologically reviews the Civil War facts pertaining to the battles fought, it would not be hard to come to the conclusion that the South should have won, as almost all of the initial meaningful battles resulted in southern victories. Even Gettysburg, often singled out as the first major victory by the North, was in reality more of a costly (to both sides) draw. The North suffered an astounding 70% casualty rate, while the South saw a large number of their troops captured. The bloodiest battle of all was at Shiloh, where over 25,000 soldiers lost their lives in just a few days of fighting. In all, a little over half a million soldiers perished during the war.

Tunes - One of the most ironic of all of the Civil War facts, and one that has been documented numerous times, is that one of Abraham Lincoln's favorite tunes was "Dixie", which he called "a catchy little tune".