I. "And the War Came"
A. Attack on Fort Sumter
In the spring of 1861, Major Robert Anderson and some eighty U.S. soldiers occupied
Fort Sumter at the entrance to Charleston harbor.
To Southerners, the fort, with its American flag, became a hateful symbol reminding
Southerners of the nation they had abandoned while Northerners saw Fort Sumter as a
symbol of federal sovereignty in the seceded states.
Lincoln would not abandon Fort Sumter, so he had to provision it, but he avoided sending
On April 9, 1861, Jefferson Davis and his cabinet met to consider the situation; according
to Davis, the territorial integrity of the Confederacy demanded the end of the U.S.
Against the advice of his secretary of state, Robert Toomb, Jefferson Davis sent
Confederate soldiers to bombard the fort, forcing Anderson to surrender.
In response, Lincoln called for 75,000 militiamen to serve for ninety days to put down the
B. The Upper South Chooses Sides
The Upper South faced a horrendous choice: either to fight against the Lower South or to
fight against the Union.
Within weeks, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia joined the
Confederacy; in the border states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri,
The struggle turned violent in the West, especially in Missouri, where southern
sympathizing guerrilla bands roamed the state for the duration of the conflict, wreaking
bloody havoc on soldiers and citizens alike.
Throughout the border states, but especially in Kentucky, the Civil War became a
"brothers' war," dividing families over the issue of slavery.
In the end, only eleven of the fifteen slave states joined the Confederate States of
America; four of the seceding Upper South states contained significant numbers of
people who felt little affection for the Confederacy.
II. The Combatants
A. How They Expected to Win
A comparison of northern and southern resources reveals enormous advantages for the
Union, nevertheless, Southerners believed that they would triumph.
The South's confidence rested partly on its estimation of the economic clout of its
principal crop, cotton, believing that northern prosperity depended on the South's cotton
and that the crop would also make Europe a powerful ally of the Confederacy.