The Civil War Precursors, Significant Battles, and Outcomes
The United States Civil War was fought between 1861 and 1865 under different battles during the precursor war, which included the Battle of Gettysburg, the war of bull run, the Battle of Shiloh, the Antietam battle, and the Vicksburg campaign. These battles began because of the state versus federal rights and, most vital, economic interests between north and south Americans (Hart,2002). In addition, the election of Abraham Lincoln resulted in the Civil War because of his tough decisions in the region that the neighboring leaders feared.
The Battle of Bull Run was fought primarily to block the Union army from advancing on the Confederate capital. The war was catalyzed by the early victories that the Union troops had acquired from conquering other territories; this motivated President Abraham Lincoln to mount an offensive that would hit their enemies, open the way to their expansion, and prevent the enemy from finding a way into their territory. However, at the end of the Battle, there were more than three thousand casualties from the Union. Confederates had lost less than a thousand eight hundred soldiers.
The Battle of the Antietam is also called the Battle of Sharpsburg because the Battle was fought near Sharpsburg town. The war began at dawn with all of Lee’s troops being sick, hungry, and worn out. They kept an eye on McClellan’s army assembling along the creek’s east side. The Battle involved a huge number of forces that outnumbered the Confederate soldiers. The troops fought in a thirty-acre cornfield, making it the deadliest Battle in American history. The Battle involved the use of advanced weapons, unwise tactics, and the use of terrible decisions by the leaders. As a result, thousands of people lost their lives. Furthermore, many soldiers were injured and captured as captives in the Battle. As a result, the Union claimed their victory, keeping the Confederates in their southern region box, making it easy for President Lincoln to get liberated on September 22, 1862, finally.
There was also the Battle of Gettysburg, which resulted because of the conflict over the road junction in Gettysburg between the two armies of the Union and the Confederate. The war was fought for three days. Many soldiers took part in the war, resulting in more than fifty thousand deaths. This ended the Confederate’s ambition to invade the North and bring the civil war to a swift end. The Battle involved many casualties of the entire Battle and is often referred to as the war’s turning point because of the Union’s decisive victory. As a result, the Gettysburg bloody engagement stopped the Confederate force that persistently changed America to be at peace.
The Vicksburg campaign was another war in the United States that began when the Union soldiers attempted to cross the Mississippi at the Grand Gulf, a strategic point that the Union and the Confederates were scrambling. The Battle of Vicksburg was a final Union triumph during the American civil war that brought about the division of the Confederates and cemented the influence of the Union. Furthermore, there was also a clash between the two groups at the big black river. This resulted in the defeat of the confederates by the Union. The war resulted in thousands of soldiers losing their lives. This resulted in the Confederates surrendering their authority over the Mississippi River, splitting the South into two.
The Battle of Shiloh, also called the Pittsburg landing Battle, allowed the Union soldiers to penetrate the Confederate’s interior. This resulted in war at the Shiloh church, where the Confederates swept the Union line from the region. Despite the heavy gun attacks from the Confederates, the Union’s soldiers countered the attacks, but they slowly lost ground to the Confederates. In the Battle, many soldiers from both sides lost their lives. The Battle of Shiloh ended with the loss of the Confederates over the United States (Union) in Pittsburgh.
Hart, J. M. (2002). Empire and revolution: The Americans in Mexico since the civil war. Univ of California Press. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=LI71T7UUYwMC&oi=fnd&pg=PP11&dq=+Civil+War+Precursors+in+USA&ots=mqHX3Z-1yq&sig=P2AZeBrgPJNxg7Ss90NcztjCMI4
Du Bois on Reconstruction
According to W.E.B Du Bois, the Civil War was a moment of reckoning of the central problem facing the union, the issue of color. Du Bois writes that the war provided an opportunity for the expression of agency by African Americans held as enslaved people. In his description of the war, Du Bois notes that the enslaved people did not spontaneously join either side of the conflict because they were weighing the options and the tide of the war (Kelly). In the popular retelling of history that took root in the aftermath of the war, scholars painted the enslaved people as a monolith that either joined the fight in favor of freedom or stayed out of it and waited to be handed freedom by the liberators and abolitionists. Du Bois’ account of the war tells a different story. It highlights an unevenness in the response of African Americans to the conflict. Some were quick to join, while it took longer for others. The enslaved people were acutely aware of the predilection for violence among their owners (Kelly). They quelled rebellions with barbaric brutality and displayed slave bodies as a warning to the rest to toe the line. Du Bois notes that it is inaccurate to claim that the enslaved people were passive while at the same time telling stories of these quashed rebellions. Du Bois proposed a general strike thesis to explain widespread defiance among the enslaved population that swung the war effort in favor of the North (Emerson). The core point of this argument is that the enslaved people freed themselves.
As implied above, In Du Bois’ mind, slavery was the primary cause of the war and was also a vital determinant of the outcome. The politicians and bureaucrats in government, such as Lincoln, held a different view long after the war started. In his open letter to Horace Greeley, editor of The New York Britain, Lincoln reiterated that his primary and sole concern was saving the union (Lincoln). He was open to saving the union by any means necessary, even if it meant keeping the institution of slavery in place. If the Southern states had given up their rebellion, he would have let them keep their slaves (Lincoln). However, as the war went on, it quickly became apparent that slavery was at the heart of it all. As the war held the promise of freedom, the swelling numbers of runaway slaves forced the North to decide on the issue. Lincoln could not bury his head in the sand any longer and issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Du Bois describes the Freedmen’s Bureau as well-intentioned but overwhelmed (Du Bois). The responsibility handed to the Bureau was greater than the resources and political goodwill backing it. In his writings, one gets the impression that Du Bois was sympathetic toward the difficult position in which the Bureau had to operate and the challenging conditions under which it was established (Du Bois). It is essential to note that Du Bois’ retelling of the history of the war and Reconstruction was intended to correct the misrepresentation of black people by famous scholars at the time. Du Bois used data and historical records to back his assertions. His approach toward the Bureau is no different. He acknowledged their successes and their failures in equal measure. He gave the Bureau credit for setting up a system that allowed African Americans to provide paid labor, ensuring black people got recognition in the courts, providing capital for African American proprietors, and setting up schools for the children of formerly enslaved people (Du Bois). The Bureau was responsible for more than 4 million people, and its resources were limited. Nonetheless, Du Bois notes that the Bureau tried its best and left a lasting impact in the short period of its existence.
The Bureau failed in reintegrating the formerly enslaved people into the American fabric. Its courts favored black people, whereas the state courts favored the enslavers (Du Bois). As a result, the divide and animosity between the two groups widened during the Bureau’s tenure. Furthermore, it continued the culture of dependency by African Americans on the benevolence of the white population. Its establishment was rushed to answer the freed slave question. Hence, its structure was not equipped to deal with the large-scale bureaucracy of an organization of its size. Du Bois argues that its failure was due to the inability of the local agents to fulfill its mandate, the task’s difficulty, and the national climate (Du Bois). Du Bois acknowledges that the Bureau had real potential for transformative change, which was never realized. If it had been the product of political goodwill in times of peace rather than war, the lives of African Americans in the following century would have taken a different, much better trajectory.
In Du Bois’ opinion, the Reconstruction promises were not realistic. The government waited too long before realizing and accepting that the slave question was central to the war (Du Bois). Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, no one was ready with an answer to the freed slave dilemma. The Reconstruction did not have a concrete plan. The landowners were not going to give up their land and coexist with the same enslaved people who had tilled it only a few years earlier. There were 4 million enslaved people. The government did not have the capacity to fulfill the promise at once (Du Bois). These were feverish promises made in the heat of the war to drum up support for the cause. They were bound to fail. Du Bois’s retelling of the Reconstruction demonstrates this gap between expectations and reality for the African American community that still found itself oppressed by new laws intended to get around emancipation.
Du Bois’ opinions on the Reconstruction are fair and nuanced. He is able to give credit where it is due and direct criticism where warranted. He also uses data to support his assertions and correct the misrepresentations of the African American population by the Dunning scholars. Du Bois’ revisionism of the reconstruction period is necessary reading for anyone looking for a more accurate depiction of American history in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt, and Eugene F. Provenzo. Illustrated souls of black folk. Routledge, 2015.
Emerson, Mount Guy. “When Slaves Go on Strike: WEB Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction 80 Years Later.” Black Perspectives 28 (2015).
Kelly, B. (2016). WEB Du Bois, Black agency and the slaves’ Civil War. International Socialist Review, 100, 47-68.
Lincoln, Abraham. “Letter to Horace Greeley.” August 22 (1862): 1863.