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The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a sectional rebellion against the United States of America by the Confederate States, formed of eleven southern states' governments which moved to secede from the Union after the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. The Union's victory was eventually achieved by leveraging advantages in population, manufacturing and logistics and through a strategic naval blockade denying the Confederacy access to the world's markets.

In many ways, the conflict's central issues – the enslavement of African Americans, the role of constitutional federal government, and the rights of states  – are still not completely resolved. Not surprisingly, the Confederate army's surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865 did little to change many Americans' attitudes toward the potential powers of central government. The passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution in the years immediately following the war did not change the racial prejudice prevalent among Americans of the day; and the process of Reconstruction did not heal the deeply personal wounds inflicted by four brutal years of war and more than 970,000 casualties – 3 percent of the population, including approximately 560,000 deaths. As a result, controversies affected by the war's unresolved social, political, economic and racial tensions continue to shape contemporary American thought. The causes of the war, the reasons for the outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of much discussion even today.


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Harriet Tubman.jpg
Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross, c. 1820 – 10 March 1913) was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the U.S. Civil War. After escaping from captivity, she made thirteen missions to rescue over seventy slaves using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She later helped John Brown recruit men for his raid on Harpers Ferry, and in the post-war era struggled for women's suffrage.

Born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman was beaten and whipped by her various owners as a child. Early in her life, she suffered a traumatic head wound when an irate slave owner threw a heavy metal weight at her, intending to hit another slave. The injury caused disabling seizures, headaches, and powerful visionary and dream activity, and spells of hypersomnia which occurred throughout her entire life. A devout Christian, she ascribed her visions and vivid dreams to premonitions from God.

In 1849, Tubman escaped to Philadelphia, then immediately returned to Maryland to rescue her family. Slowly, one group at a time, she brought relatives with her out of the state, and eventually guided dozens of other slaves to freedom. Traveling by night and in extreme secrecy, Tubman (or "Moses", as she was called) "never lost a passenger". Heavy rewards were offered for many of the people she helped bring away, but no one ever knew it was Harriet Tubman who was helping them. When a far-reaching United States Fugitive Slave Law was passed in 1850, she helped guide fugitives further north into Canada, and helped newly-freed slaves find work.

When the American Civil War began, Tubman worked for the Union Army, first as a cook and nurse, and then as an armed scout and spy. The first woman to lead an armed expedition in the war, she guided the raid on the Combahee River, which liberated more than seven hundred slaves. After the war, she retired to the family home in Auburn, New York, where she cared for her aging parents. She was active in the women's suffrage movement until illness overtook her and she had to be admitted to a home for elderly African-Americans she had helped open years earlier. After she died in 1913, she became an icon of American courage and freedom.

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California's involvement in the American Civil War included sending gold east, maintaining numerous fortifications, and recruiting or funding a limited number of combat units, including some soldiers who gained notability during the conflict. Republican supporters of Abraham Lincoln took control of the state in 1861, minimizing the influence of the large southern population, leading to a Pacific railroad land grant and authorization to build the Central Pacific as the western half of the transcontinental railroad.

California was settled primarily by Midwestern and Southern farmers, miners and businessmen. Though the southerners tended to favor the Confederacy, the state did not permit slavery, and they remained generally powerless during the war itself. California was home for powerful capitalists who played a significant role in Californian politics through their control of mines, shipping, and finance, and the Republican party. The possibility of splitting off Southern California as a territory (not a state) was rejected by the national government, and the idea was dead by 1861 when a fervour of patriotism swept California after the attack on Fort Sumter.

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Jeremy Francis Gilmer.jpg
Jeremy Francis Gilmer (February 23, 1818 – December 1, 1883) was an American soldier, mapmaker, and civil engineer most noted for his service as the Chief Engineer of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. Gilmer was born in Guilford County, North Carolina. He entered the army corps of engineers as a second lieutenant upon his graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1839. He was an assistant professor of engineering at West Point until June 1840, when he was reassigned to New York City where he was assistant engineer in the construction of Fort Schuyler in New York Harbor. Gilmer served in the Mexican War as Chief Engineer of the Army of the West and also surveyed battlefields near Mexico City.

Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, he resigned his commission in June 1861, left California, and entered the Confederate service. He was appointed as a major of engineers. He soon became chief engineer on the staff of General A. S. Johnston. Gilmer was severely wounded in his right arm at the Battle of Shiloh, where Johnston was killed. After his recovery in Georgia, Gilmer was promoted to chief engineer of the Department of Northern Virginia in early August 1862.In 1863, he was promoted to major general and appointed Chief of the Engineer Bureau for the Confederacy. He spent time overseeing the defenses of Charleston, South Carolina, although he was still plagued by recurring health problems from his Shiloh wound.

Concerned that the vital rail and manufacturing center of Atlanta would be targeted by Union forces, he commissioned Atlanta businessman and entrepreneur Lemuel P. Grant to develop a plan to ring the city with forts and earthworks along all the key approaches. These elaborate defenses would prove difficult to seize in frontal assaults, forcing the Union army to lay siege to Atlanta in the summer of 1864. Gilmer helped improve the defenses of Mobile, Alabama, in June and July. He returned to Richmond late in 1864 and spent the rest of the war there in the Engineer Bureau.

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John Reynolds death 2.jpg
Credit: Alfred Waud

An illustration of the death of Union general John F. Reynolds while overseeing the deployment of the Iron Brigade during the Battle of Gettysburg

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Ebenezer MagoffinHenry MauryJames Ashby (soldier)Albemarle CadyBenjamin D. FearingCharles A. HickmanRichard Henry JacksonJohn LovePeter S. MichieThomas Grimke RhettJames B. SpeersCharles S. SteedmanBattle of Barton's StationBattle of Camp DaviesGeorge Peabody EsteyLawrence P. GrahamJoseph Hayes (general)Lewis Cass HuntThomas John LucasSullivan Amory MeredithWilliam Reading MontgomeryCharles Hale MorganByron Root PierceCalvin Edward PrattDaniel Henry RuckerFriend Smith RutherfordGustavus Adolphus SmithJames Hughes StokesWilliam Kerley StrongFrederick S. SturmbaughWilliam B. TibbitsDavis TillsonAdin Ballou UnderwoodFrancis Laurens VintonLouis Douglass WatkinsWilliam Denison WhippleRequested American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients
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Battle of BoonsboroughBattle of Cabin CreekBattle of Fort Sumter IIBattle of Guard HillBattle of Middle Boggy DepotBattle of Rice's StationBattle of Simmon's BluffBattle of Summit PointBattle of Yellow BayouCharleston ArsenalEdenton Bell BatteryElmira PrisonFirst Battle of DaltonSamuel BentonBlackshear PrisonOrris S. FerryEdwin ForbesHiram B. GranburyHenry Thomas HarrisonBen Hardin HelmLouis Hébert (colonel)Benjamin G. HumphreysLunsford L. LomaxMaynard CarbineDaniel RugglesThomas W. ShermanHezekiah G. SpruillSmith Percussion CarbineEdward C. WalthallConfederate States Secretary of the NavyConfederate States Secretary of the TreasuryDavid Henry WilliamsBattle of Rome Cross RoadsHenry Boynton ClitzDelaware in the American Civil WarIronclad BoardUnited States Military RailroadKansas in the American Civil WarSalisbury National CemeteryOther American Civil War battle stubsOther American Civil War stubs
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Battle of Lone JackJames S. RainsPreston Pond, Jr.Melancthon SmithFranklin Stillman NickersonThomas Gamble PitcherWilliam H. PenroseLewis B. Parsons Jr.Isaac Ferdinand QuinbyJames W. ReillyIsaac F. ShepardFrancis Trowbridge ShermanJames R. SlackJoseph Pannell TaylorHenry Goddard ThomasJames Henry Van AlenMelancthon S. WadeJames M. Warner
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1st Regiment New York Mounted Rifles and 7th Regiment New York Volunteer Cavalry
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1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment (Union)4th Maine Battery33rd Ohio Infantry110th New York Volunteer InfantryBattle of Hatcher's RunBattle of Grand GulfCamp DennisonConfederate coloniesCSS ResoluteDakota War of 1862Florida in the American Civil WarEthan A. Hitchcock (general)Fort Harker (Alabama)Gettysburg (1993 film)Iowa in the American Civil War
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