Union Army

Union Army

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The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army. It consisted of the small United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 (the regular army), augmented by massive numbers of units supplied by the Northern states, composed of volunteers
United States Volunteers
United States Volunteers also known as U.S. Volunteers, U. S. Vol., or U.S.V.Starting as early as 1861 these regiments were often referred to as the "volunteer army" of the United States but not officially named that until 1898.During the nineteenth century this was the United States federal...

 as well as conscripts. The Union Army fought and eventually defeated the smaller Confederate States Army
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 during the war which lasted from 1861 to 1865. About 360,000 died from all causes; some 280,000 were wounded.

Formation



When the American Civil War began in April 1861, there were only 16,000 men in the U.S. Army, and of these many Southern
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 officers resigned and joined the Confederate States Army
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

. The U.S. Army consisted of ten regiment
Regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

s of infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

, four of artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

, two of cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

, two of dragoons, and one of mounted infantry
Mounted infantry
Mounted infantry were soldiers who rode horses instead of marching, but actually fought on foot . The original dragoons were essentially mounted infantry...

. The regiments were scattered widely. Of the 197 companies in the army, 179 occupied 79 isolated posts in the West
Western United States
.The Western United States, commonly referred to as the American West or simply "the West," traditionally refers to the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. Because the U.S. expanded westward after its founding, the meaning of the West has evolved over time...

, and the remaining 18 manned garrisons east of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

, mostly along the Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 border and on the Atlantic coast.

With the secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 of the Southern states
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

, and with this drastic shortage of men in the army, President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 called on the states to raise a force of 75,000 men for three months to put down the "insurrection". Lincoln's call forced the border states to choose sides, and four seceded, making the Confederacy eleven states strong. The war proved to be longer and more extensive than anyone North or South had expected, and on July 22, 1861, Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 authorized a volunteer army of 500,000 men
The call for volunteers initially was easily met by patriotic Northerners, abolitionists
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

, and even immigrants who enlisted for a steady income and meals. Over 10,000 Germans
German American
German Americans are citizens of the United States of German ancestry and comprise about 51 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population, the country's largest self-reported ancestral group...

 in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 and Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 immediately responded to Lincoln's call, and the French
French American
French Americans or Franco-Americans are Americans of French or French Canadian descent. About 11.8 million U.S. residents are of this descent, and about 1.6 million speak French at home.An additional 450,000 U.S...

 were also quick to volunteer. As more men were needed, however, the number of volunteers fell and both money bounties and forced conscription had to be turned to. Nevertheless, between April 1861 and April 1865, at least two and a half million men served in the Union Army, of whom the majority were volunteers.

It is a misconception that the South held an advantage because of the large percentage of professional officers who resigned to join the Confederate States Army
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

. At the start of the war, there were 824 graduates of the U.S. Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 on the active list; of these, 296 resigned or were dismissed, and 184 of those became Confederate officers. Of the approximately 900 West Point
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 graduates who were then civilians, 400 returned to the Union Army and 99 to the Confederate. Therefore, the ratio of Union to Confederate professional officers was 642 to 283. (One of the resigning officers was Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

, who had initially been offered the assignment as commander of a field army to suppress the rebellion. Lee disapproved of secession, but refused to bear arms against his native state, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, and resigned to accept the position as commander of Virginia forces. He eventually became the commander of the Confederate States Army
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

.) The South did have the advantage of other military colleges, such as The Citadel
The Citadel (military college)
The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, also known simply as The Citadel, is a state-supported, comprehensive college located in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. It is one of the six senior military colleges in the United States...

 and Virginia Military Institute
Virginia Military Institute
The Virginia Military Institute , located in Lexington, Virginia, is the oldest state-supported military college and one of six senior military colleges in the United States. Unlike any other military college in the United States—and in keeping with its founding principles—all VMI students are...

, but they produced fewer officers. Only 26 enlisted men and non-commissioned officers are known to have left the regular United States Army to join the Confederate Army, all by desertion.

Major organizations


The Union Army was composed of numerous organizations, which were generally organized geographically.

Department
An organization that covered a defined region, including responsibilities for the Federal installations therein and for the field armies within their borders. Those named for states usually referred to Southern states that had been occupied. It was more common to name departments for rivers (such as Department of the Tennessee, Department of the Cumberland) or regions (Department of the Pacific
Department of the Pacific
The Department of the Pacific was a major command of the United States Army during the 19th century.-Formation:The Department of the Pacific was first organized on October 31, 1853, at San Francisco, California, taking over from the previous Pacific Division. The department reported directly to...

, Department of New England, Department of the East, Department of the West
Department of the West
The Department of the West, later known as the Western Department, was a major command of the United States Army during the 19th century. It oversaw the military affairs in the country west of the Mississippi River to the borders of California and Oregon.-Organization:The Department was first...

, Middle Department).


District
A subdivision of a Department (e.g., District of Cairo, District of East Tennessee). There were also Subdistricts for smaller regions.


Military Division
A collection of Departments reporting to one commander (e.g., Military Division of the Mississippi
Military Division of the Mississippi
The Military Division of the Mississippi was an administrative division of the United States Army during the American Civil War that controlled all military operations in the Western Theater.-History:...

, Military Division of the Gulf). Military Divisions were similar to the regions described by the more modern term, Theater
Theater (warfare)
In warfare, a theater, is defined as an area or place within which important military events occur or are progressing. The entirety of the air, land, and sea area that is or that may potentially become involved in war operations....

.


Army
The fighting force that was usually, but not always, assigned to a District or Department but could operate over wider areas. Some of the most prominent armies were:

  • Army of the Cumberland
    Army of the Cumberland
    The Army of the Cumberland was one of the principal Union armies in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. It was originally known as the Army of the Ohio.-History:...

    , the army operating primarily in Tennessee
    Tennessee
    Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

    , and later Georgia
    Georgia (U.S. state)
    Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

    , commanded by William S. Rosecrans and George Henry Thomas
    George Henry Thomas
    George Henry Thomas was a career United States Army officer and a Union General during the American Civil War, one of the principal commanders in the Western Theater....

    .
  • Army of Georgia
    Army of Georgia
    The Army of Georgia was a Union army that constituted the Left Wing of Major General William T. Sherman's Army Group during the March to the Sea and the Carolinas Campaign.-History:...

    , operated in the March to the Sea and the Carolinas commanded by Henry W. Slocum.
  • Army of the Gulf
    Army of the Gulf
    The Army of the Gulf was a Union army that served in the general area of the Gulf states controlled by Union forces. It mainly saw action in Louisiana and Alabama.-History:...

    , the army operating in the region bordering the Gulf of Mexico
    Gulf of Mexico
    The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

    , commanded by Benjamin Butler
    Benjamin Franklin Butler (politician)
    Benjamin Franklin Butler was an American lawyer and politician who represented Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives and later served as the 33rd Governor of Massachusetts....

    , Nathaniel P. Banks, and Edward Canby
    Edward Canby
    Edward Richard Sprigg Canby was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War, Reconstruction era, and the Indian Wars...

    .
  • Army of the James
    Army of the James
    The Army of the James was a Union Army that was composed of units from the Department of Virginia and North Carolina and served along the James River during the final operations of the American Civil War in Virginia.-History:...

    , the army operating on the Virginia Peninsula
    Virginia Peninsula
    The Virginia Peninsula is a peninsula in southeast Virginia, USA, bounded by the York River, James River, Hampton Roads and Chesapeake Bay.Hampton Roads is the common name for the metropolitan area that surrounds the body of water of the same name...

    , 1864–65, commanded by Benjamin Butler and Edward Ord
    Edward Ord
    Edward Otho Cresap Ord was the designer of Fort Sam Houston, and a United States Army officer who saw action in the Seminole War, the Indian Wars, and the American Civil War. He commanded an army during the final days of the Civil War, and was instrumental in forcing the surrender of Confederate...

    .
  • Army of the Mississippi
    Army of the Mississippi
    Army of the Mississippi was the name given to two Union armies that operated around the Mississippi River, both with short existences, during the American Civil War.-1862:...

    , a briefly existing army operating on the Mississippi River, in two incarnations—under John Pope
    John Pope (military officer)
    John Pope was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War. He had a brief but successful career in the Western Theater, but he is best known for his defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run in the East.Pope was a graduate of the United States Military Academy in...

     and William S. Rosecrans in 1862; under John A. McClernand in 1863.
  • Army of the Ohio
    Army of the Ohio
    The Army of the Ohio was the name of two Union armies in the American Civil War. The first army became the Army of the Cumberland and the second army was created in 1863.-History:...

    , the army operating primarily in Kentucky
    Kentucky
    The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

     and later Tennessee and Georgia, commanded by Don Carlos Buell
    Don Carlos Buell
    Don Carlos Buell was a career United States Army officer who fought in the Seminole War, the Mexican-American War, and the American Civil War. Buell led Union armies in two great Civil War battles—Shiloh and Perryville. The nation was angry at his failure to defeat the outnumbered...

    , Ambrose E. Burnside, John G. Foster
    John G. Foster
    John Gray Foster was a career military officer in the United States Army and a Union general during the American Civil War whose most distinguished services were in North and South Carolina. A postbellum expert in underwater demolition, he wrote the definitive treatise on the subject.-Early...

    , and John M. Schofield.
  • Army of the Potomac
    Army of the Potomac
    The Army of the Potomac was the major Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.-History:The Army of the Potomac was created in 1861, but was then only the size of a corps . Its nucleus was called the Army of Northeastern Virginia, under Brig. Gen...

    , the principal army in the Eastern Theater
    Eastern Theater of the American Civil War
    The Eastern Theater of the American Civil War included the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and the coastal fortifications and seaports of North Carolina...

    , commanded by George B. McClellan
    George B. McClellan
    George Brinton McClellan was a major general during the American Civil War. He organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Early in the war, McClellan played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army for the Union...

    , Ambrose E. Burnside, Joseph Hooker
    Joseph Hooker
    Joseph Hooker was a career United States Army officer, achieving the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Although he served throughout the war, usually with distinction, Hooker is best remembered for his stunning defeat by Confederate General Robert E...

    , and George G. Meade.
  • Army of the Shenandoah
    Army of the Shenandoah (Union)
    The Army of the Shenandoah was a Union army during the American Civil War. First organized in 1861 and then disbanded, it is best known for its recreation in 1864 under Philip Sheridan...

    , the army operating in the Shenandoah Valley
    Shenandoah Valley
    The Shenandoah Valley is both a geographic valley and cultural region of western Virginia and West Virginia in the United States. The valley is bounded to the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the west by the eastern front of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians , to the north by the Potomac River...

    , under David Hunter
    David Hunter
    David Hunter was a Union general in the American Civil War. He achieved fame by his unauthorized 1862 order emancipating slaves in three Southern states and as the president of the military commission trying the conspirators involved with the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.-Early...

    , Philip Sheridan
    Philip Sheridan
    Philip Henry Sheridan was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S...

    , and Horatio G. Wright.
  • Army of the Tennessee
    Army of the Tennessee
    The Army of the Tennessee was a Union army in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, named for the Tennessee River. It should not be confused with the similarly named Army of Tennessee, a Confederate army named after the State of Tennessee....

    , the most famous army in the Western Theater
    Western Theater of the American Civil War
    This article presents an overview of major military and naval operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.-Theater of operations:...

    , operating through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and the Carolinas; commanded by Ulysses S. Grant
    Ulysses S. Grant
    Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

    , William T. Sherman, James B. McPherson
    James B. McPherson
    James Birdseye McPherson was a career United States Army officer who served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War...

    , and Oliver O. Howard
    Oliver O. Howard
    Oliver Otis Howard was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War...

    .
  • Army of Virginia
    Army of Virginia
    The Army of Virginia was organized as a major unit of the Union Army and operated briefly and unsuccessfully in 1862 in the American Civil War. It should not be confused with its principal opponent, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by Robert E...

    , the army assembled under John Pope
    John Pope (military officer)
    John Pope was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War. He had a brief but successful career in the Western Theater, but he is best known for his defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run in the East.Pope was a graduate of the United States Military Academy in...

     for the Northern Virginia Campaign
    Northern Virginia Campaign
    The Northern Virginia Campaign, also known as the Second Bull Run Campaign or Second Manassas Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during August and September 1862 in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. Confederate General Robert E...

    .


Each of these armies was usually commanded by a major general
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

. Typically, the Department or District commander also had field command of the army of the same name, but some conflicts within the ranks occurred when this was not true, particularly when an army crossed a geographic boundary.

The regular army, a term used to describe the permanent United States Army, was intermixed into various units and formations of the Union Army, forming a cadre of experienced and skilled troops. They were regarded by many as elite troops and often held in reserve during battles in case of emergencies. This force was quite small compared to the massive state-raised volunteer forces that comprised the bulk of the Union Army.

Theaters
Operations in the Civil War were distinctly divided within broad geographic regions known as theaters
Theater (warfare)
In warfare, a theater, is defined as an area or place within which important military events occur or are progressing. The entirety of the air, land, and sea area that is or that may potentially become involved in war operations....

. For overviews of general army operations and strategies, see articles on the main theaters, including the Western Theater
Western Theater of the American Civil War
This article presents an overview of major military and naval operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.-Theater of operations:...

, and Eastern Theater
Eastern Theater of the American Civil War
The Eastern Theater of the American Civil War included the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and the coastal fortifications and seaports of North Carolina...

.

Personnel organization



Soldiers were organized by military specialty. The combat arms included infantry
Infantry in the American Civil War
The Infantry in the American Civil War comprised foot-soldiers who fought primarily with small arms, and they carried the brunt of the fighting on battlefields across the United States. As the Civil War progressed, battlefield tactics soon changed in response to the new form of warfare being waged...

, cavalry
Cavalry in the American Civil War
Cavalry in the American Civil War was a branch of army service in a process of transition. It suffered from emerging technology threats, difficult logistics, and sometimes misguided or inept commanders...

, artillery, and other such smaller organizations such as the United States Marine Corps, which, at some times, was detached from its navy counterpart for land based operations. The Signal Corps was created and deployed for the first time, through the leadership of Albert J. Myer
Albert J. Myer
Albert James Myer was a surgeon and United States Army officer. He is known as the father of the U.S. Army Signal Corps, as its first chief signal officer just prior to the American Civil War, the inventor of wig-wag signaling , and also as the father of the U.S...

.

Below major units like armies, soldiers were organized mainly into regiments, the main fighting unit with which a soldier would march and be deployed with. According to W. J. Hardee's "Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics" (1855), the primary tactics for riflemen and light infantry in use immediately prior and during the Civil War, there would be, within each regiment, ten companies, each commanded by a captain, and deployed according to the ranks of captains. Regiments were almost always raised within a single state, and were generally referred by number and state, e.g. 54th Massachusetts, 20th Maine, etc.

Regiments were usually grouped into brigades. However, brigades were changed easily as the situation demanded. The regiment was the main form of permanent grouping. Brigades were usually formed once regiments reached the battlefield, according to where the regiment might be deployed, and alongside which other regiments.

Leaders


Several men served as generals-in-chief of the Union Army throughout its existence:
  • Winfield Scott
    Winfield Scott
    Winfield Scott was a United States Army general, and unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Whig Party in 1852....

    : July 5, 1841 November 1, 1861
  • George B. McClellan
    George B. McClellan
    George Brinton McClellan was a major general during the American Civil War. He organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Early in the war, McClellan played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army for the Union...

    : November 1, 1861 March 11, 1862
  • Henry W. Halleck: July 23, 1862 March 9, 1864
  • Ulysses S. Grant
    Ulysses S. Grant
    Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

    : March 9, 1864 March 4, 1869


The gap from March 11 to July 23, 1862, was filled with direct control of the army by President Lincoln and United States Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

 Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin McMasters Stanton was an American lawyer and politician who served as Secretary of War under the Lincoln Administration during the American Civil War from 1862–1865...

, with the help of an unofficial "War Board" that was established on March 17, 1862. The board consisted of Ethan A. Hitchcock
Ethan A. Hitchcock (general)
Ethan Allen Hitchcock was a career United States Army officer and author who had War Department assignments in Washington, D.C., during the American Civil War, in which he served as a major general.-Early life:...

, the chairman, with Department of War bureau chiefs Lorenzo Thomas
Lorenzo Thomas
Lorenzo Thomas was a career United States Army officer who was Adjutant General of the Army at the beginning of the American Civil War. After the war, he was appointed temporary Secretary of War by President Andrew Johnson, precipitating Johnson's impeachment.-Early life:Thomas was born in New...

, Montgomery C. Meigs
Montgomery C. Meigs
Montgomery Cunningham Meigs was a career United States Army officer, civil engineer, construction engineer for a number of facilities in Washington, D.C., and Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army during and after the American Civil War....

, Joseph G. Totten, James W. Ripley
James Wolfe Ripley
James Wolfe Ripley was an American soldier, serving as a brigadier general in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was instrumental in the early days of the war in modernizing the artillery's ordnance. However, Ripley also delayed the introduction of repeating rifles into U.S...

, and Joseph P. Taylor.

Scott was an elderly veteran of the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 and the Mexican-American War and could not perform his duties effectively. His successor, Maj. Gen. McClellan, built and trained the massive Union Army of the Potomac
Army of the Potomac
The Army of the Potomac was the major Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.-History:The Army of the Potomac was created in 1861, but was then only the size of a corps . Its nucleus was called the Army of Northeastern Virginia, under Brig. Gen...

, the primary fighting force in the Eastern Theater. Although he was popular among the soldiers, McClellan was relieved from his position as general-in-chief because of his overly cautious strategy and his contentious relationship with his commander in chief, President Lincoln. (He remained commander of the Army of the Potomac through the Peninsula Campaign
Peninsula Campaign
The Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War was a major Union operation launched in southeastern Virginia from March through July 1862, the first large-scale offensive in the Eastern Theater. The operation, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B...

 and the Battle of Antietam
Battle of Antietam
The Battle of Antietam , fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Northern soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000...

.) His replacement, Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck, had a successful record in the Western Theater, but was more of an administrator than a strategic planner and commander.

Ulysses S. Grant was the final commander of the Union Army. He was famous for his victories in the West when he was appointed lieutenant general
Lieutenant General (United States)
In the United States Army, the United States Air Force and the United States Marine Corps, lieutenant general is a three-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-9. Lieutenant general ranks above major general and below general...

 and general-in-chief of the Union Army in March 1864. Grant supervised the Army of the Potomac (which was formally led by his subordinate, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade) in delivering the final blows to the Confederacy by engaging Confederate forces in many fierce battles in Virginia, the Overland Campaign
Overland Campaign
The Overland Campaign, also known as Grant's Overland Campaign and the Wilderness Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during May and June 1864, in the American Civil War. Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all Union armies, directed the actions of the Army of the...

, conducting a war of attrition that the larger Union Army was able to survive better than its opponent. Grant laid siege
Siege of Petersburg
The Richmond–Petersburg Campaign was a series of battles around Petersburg, Virginia, fought from June 9, 1864, to March 25, 1865, during the American Civil War...

 to Lee's army at Petersburg, Virginia
Petersburg, Virginia
Petersburg is an independent city in Virginia, United States located on the Appomattox River and south of the state capital city of Richmond. The city's population was 32,420 as of 2010, predominantly of African-American ethnicity...

, and eventually captured Richmond
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

, the capital of the Confederacy. He developed the strategy of coordinated simultaneous thrusts against wide portions of the Confederacy, most importantly the Georgia
Sherman's March to the Sea
Sherman's March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the Savannah Campaign conducted around Georgia from November 15, 1864 to December 21, 1864 by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army in the American Civil War...

 and Carolinas Campaign
Carolinas Campaign
The Carolinas Campaign was the final campaign in the Western Theater of the American Civil War. In January 1865, Union Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman advanced north from Savannah, Georgia, through the Carolinas, with the intention of linking up with Union forces in Virginia. The defeat of ...

s of William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War , for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched...

 and the Shenandoah Valley
Shenandoah Valley
The Shenandoah Valley is both a geographic valley and cultural region of western Virginia and West Virginia in the United States. The valley is bounded to the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the west by the eastern front of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians , to the north by the Potomac River...

 campaign of Philip Sheridan
Philip Sheridan
Philip Henry Sheridan was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S...

. These campaigns were characterized by another strategic notion of Grant's—deny the enemy the supplies needed to continue the war by widespread destruction of its factories and farms along the paths of the invading Union armies.

Grant had critics who complained about the high numbers of casualties that the Union Army suffered while he was in charge, but Lincoln would not replace Grant, because, in Lincoln's words: "I cannot spare this man. He fights."

Among memorable field leaders of the army were William Rosecrans
William Rosecrans
William Starke Rosecrans was an inventor, coal-oil company executive, diplomat, politician, and United States Army officer. He gained fame for his role as a Union general during the American Civil War...

, George Henry Thomas
George Henry Thomas
George Henry Thomas was a career United States Army officer and a Union General during the American Civil War, one of the principal commanders in the Western Theater....

 and William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War , for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched...

. Others, of lesser competence, included Benjamin F. Butler
Benjamin Franklin Butler (politician)
Benjamin Franklin Butler was an American lawyer and politician who represented Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives and later served as the 33rd Governor of Massachusetts....

.

Union victory


The decisive victories by Grant and Sherman resulted in the surrender of the major Confederate armies. The first and most significant was on April 9, 1865, when Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

 surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

 to Grant at Appomattox Court House
Appomattox Court House
The Appomattox Courthouse is the current courthouse in Appomattox, Virginia built in 1892. It is located in the middle of the state about three miles northwest of the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, once known as Clover Hill - home of the original Old Appomattox Court House...

. Although there were other Confederate armies that would surrender in the following weeks, such as Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

's in North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, this date was nevertheless symbolic of the end of the bloodiest war in American history, the end of the Confederate States of America, and the beginning of the slow process of Reconstruction.

Casualties



Of the 2,213,363 men who served in the Union Army during the Civil War, 364,511 died in combat, or from injuries sustained in combat, disease, or other causes, and 281,881 were wounded. More than 1 out of every 4 Union soldiers was killed or wounded during the war; casualties in the Confederate Army were even worse—1 in 3 Southern soldiers were killed or wounded. Though it should be noted that the Confederates suffered a considerably lower amount of overall casualties than the Union, at roughly 260,000 total casualties to the Union's 360,000. This is by far the highest casualty ratio of any war in which America has been involved. By comparison, 1 out of every 16 American soldiers was killed or wounded in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, and 1 out of every 22 during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

.

In total, 620,000 soldiers died during the Civil War. There were 34 million Americans at that time, so 2% of the American population died in the war. In today's terms, this would be the equivalent of 5.9 million American men being killed in a war.

Ethnic groups


The Union Army was composed of many different ethnic groups, including large numbers of immigrants. About 25% of the white people
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

 who served in the Union Army were foreign-born.

The estimate of 25 percent of the Union armed forces being foreign-born is very accurate. This means that about 1,600,000 soldiers and sailors were born in the United States, including about 200,000 African-Americans. About 200,000 soldiers were born in one of the German states (although this is somewhat speculative since anyone serving from a German family tended to be identified as German regardless of where actually born—Sanitary Commission Report, 1869). About 200,000 soldiers and sailors were born in Ireland. Although some soldiers came from as far away as Malta, Italy, India, and Russia, most of the remaining foreign-born soldiers came from England, Scotland and Canada.

Breakdown of the approximately 2.2 million Union soldiers [ethnic origin and nativity have be conflated inconsistently here by an editor]:
  • 1,000,000 (45.4% of all Union soldiers) native-born white Americans.
  • 516,000 (23.4%) Germans
    German-Americans in the Civil War
    German-Americans in the American Civil War were the largest ethnic contingent to fight for the Union. More than 200,000 native Germans served in the Union Army, with New York and Ohio each providing ten divisions dominated by German-born men....

    ; about 216,000 were born in Germany
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

    .
  • 210,000 (9.5%) African American
    African American
    African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

    . Half were freedmen who lived in the North, and half were ex-slaves from the South. They served under white officers in more than 160 "colored" regiments and in Federal regiments organized as the United States Colored Troops
    United States Colored Troops
    The United States Colored Troops were regiments of the United States Army during the American Civil War that were composed of African American soldiers. First recruited in 1863, by the end of the Civil War, the men of the 175 regiments of the USCT constituted approximately one-tenth of the Union...

     (USCT).
  • 200,000 (9.1%) Irish
    Irish American
    Irish Americans are citizens of the United States who can trace their ancestry to Ireland. A total of 36,278,332 Americans—estimated at 11.9% of the total population—reported Irish ancestry in the 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau...

    .
  • 90,000 (4.1%) Dutch
    Netherlands
    The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

    .
  • 50,000 (2.3%) Canadian
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

    .
  • 50,000 (2.3%) born in England
    England
    England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

    .
  • 40,000 (1.8%) French
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

     or French Canadian
    French Canadian
    French Canadian or Francophone Canadian, , generally refers to the descendents of French colonists who arrived in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries...

    . About half were born in the United States of America, the other half in Quebec
    Quebec
    Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

    .
  • 20,000 (0.9%) Scandinavia
    Scandinavia
    Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

    n (Norwegian, Swedish
    Swedish American
    Swedish Americans are Americans of Swedish descent, especially the descendants of about 1.2 million immigrants from Sweden during 1885-1915. Most were Lutherans who affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America ; some were Methodists...

    , Finnish
    Finnish American
    Finnish Americans are Americans of Finnish descent, who currently number about 700,000.-History:Some Finns, like the ancestors of John Morton, came to the Swedish colony of New Sweden, that existed in mid-17th century....

    , and Danish
    Denmark
    Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

    ).
  • 7,000 Italian
    Italian American
    An Italian American , is an American of Italian ancestry. The designation may also refer to someone possessing Italian and American dual citizenship...

  • 7,000 Jewish
    American Jews
    American Jews, also known as Jewish Americans, are American citizens of the Jewish faith or Jewish ethnicity. The Jewish community in the United States is composed predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews who emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe, and their U.S.-born descendants...

  • 6,000 Mexican
    Mexican American
    Mexican Americans are Americans of Mexican descent. As of July 2009, Mexican Americans make up 10.3% of the United States' population with over 31,689,000 Americans listed as of Mexican ancestry. Mexican Americans comprise 66% of all Hispanics and Latinos in the United States...

  • 5,000 Polish (many of whom served in the Polish Legion of Brig. Gen.
    Brigadier General
    Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

     Włodzimierz Krzyżanowski)
  • 4,000 Native Americans
    Native Americans in the United States
    Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

  • Several hundred of other various nationalities.


Many immigrant soldiers formed their own regiment
Regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

s, such as the Irish Brigade
Irish Brigade (US)
The Irish Brigade was an infantry brigade, consisting predominantly of Irish Americans, that served in the Union Army in the American Civil War. The designation of the first regiment in the brigade, the 69th New York Infantry, or the "Fighting 69th", continued in later wars...

 (69th New York
69th Infantry Regiment (United States)
The 69th Infantry Regiment was a Regular Army infantry regiment in the United States Army.-History:There have been three different lineages started under this number: The Famous 69th Infantry Regiment , and two under the Federal designation....

, 63rd New York, 88th New York, 28th Massachusetts, 116th Pennsylvania); the Swiss Rifles (15th Missouri); the Gardes Lafayette (55th New York); the Garibaldi Guard (39th New York); the Martinez Militia (1st New Mexico); the Polish Legion (58th New York); the German Rangers (52nd New York); the Highlander Regiment (79th New York); and the Scandinavian Regiment (15th Wisconsin). But for the most part, the foreign-born soldiers were scattered as individuals throughout units.

For comparison, the Confederate Army was not very diverse: 91% of Confederate soldiers were native born and only 9% were foreign-born, Irish being the largest group with others including Germans, French, Mexicans (though most of them simply happened to have been born when the Southwest was still part of Mexico), and British. Some Southern propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 compared foreign-born soldiers in the Union Army to the hated Hessians of the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

. Also, a relatively small number of Native Americans (Cherokee
Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

, Chickasaw
Chickasaw
The Chickasaw are Native American people originally from the region that would become the Southeastern United States...

, Choctaw
Choctaw
The Choctaw are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States...

, and Creek
Creek people
The Muscogee , also known as the Creek or Creeks, are a Native American people traditionally from the southeastern United States. Mvskoke is their name in traditional spelling. The modern Muscogee live primarily in Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida...

) fought for the Confederacy.

Army administration and issues


Various organizational and administrative issues arose during the war, which had a major effect on subsequent military procedures.

Blacks in the army


The inclusion of blacks as combat soldiers became a major issue. Eventually, it was realized, especially after the valiant effort of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
The 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment that saw extensive service in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The regiment was one of the first official black units in the United States during the Civil War...

 in the Battle of Fort Wagner
Battle of Fort Wagner, Morris Island
The Second Battle of Fort Wagner, also known as the Second Assault on Morris Island or the Battle of Fort Wagner, Morris Island, was fought on July 18, 1863, during the American Civil War. Union Army troops commanded by Brig. Gen...

, that blacks were fully able to serve as competent and reliable soldiers. This was partly due to the efforts of Robert Smalls
Robert Smalls
Robert Smalls was an enslaved African American who, during and after the American Civil War, became a ship's pilot, sea captain, and politician. He freed himself and his family from slavery on May 13, 1862, by commandeering a Confederate transport ship, the Planter, to freedom in Charleston harbor...

, who, while still a slave, won fame by defecting from the Confederacy, and bringing a Confederate transport ship which he was piloting. He later met with Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, to argue for including blacks in combat units. This led to the formation of the first combat unit for black soldiers, the 1st South Carolina Volunteers. Regiments for black soldiers were eventually referred to as United States Colored Troops
United States Colored Troops
The United States Colored Troops were regiments of the United States Army during the American Civil War that were composed of African American soldiers. First recruited in 1863, by the end of the Civil War, the men of the 175 regiments of the USCT constituted approximately one-tenth of the Union...

. The blacks were paid less than white soldiers until late in the war and were treated harshly. This is one of the biggest reasons why they protested. Even after the end of the war, they were not permitted (by Sherman's order) to march in the great victory parade through Washington, DC.

Unit supplies


Battlefield supplies were a major problem. They were greatly improved by new techniques in preserving food and other perishables, and in transport by railroad. General Montgomery C. Meigs
Montgomery C. Meigs
Montgomery Cunningham Meigs was a career United States Army officer, civil engineer, construction engineer for a number of facilities in Washington, D.C., and Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army during and after the American Civil War....

 was one of the most important Union Army leaders in this field.

Combat medicine


Medical care was, at first, extremely disorganized and substandard. Gradually, medical experts began calling for higher standards, and created an agency known as the United States Sanitary Commission
United States Sanitary Commission
The United States Sanitary Commission was a private relief agency created by federal legislation on June 18, 1861, to support sick and wounded soldiers of the U.S. Army during the American Civil War. It operated across the North, raised its own funds, and enlisted thousands of volunteers...

. This created professional standards, and led to some of the first advances in battlefield medicine
Battlefield medicine
Battlefield medicine, also called field surgery and later combat casualty care, is the treatment of wounded soldiers in or near an area of combat. Civilian medicine has been greatly advanced by procedures that were first developed to treat the wounds inflicted during combat...

 as a separate specialty. General William Alexander Hammond
William Alexander Hammond
William Alexander Hammond, M.D. was an American neurologist and the 11th Surgeon General of the U.S. Army...

 of the Medical Corps did some major work and provided some important leadership in this area.

Additionally, care of the wounded was greatly improved by medical pioneers such as Clara Barton
Clara Barton
Clarissa Harlowe "Clara" Barton was a pioneer American teacher, patent clerk, nurse, and humanitarian. She is best remembered for organizing the American Red Cross.-Youth, education, and family nursing:...

, who often worked alone to provide supplies and care, and brought a new level of dedication to caring for the wounded.

Military strategy


The Civil War drove many innovations in military strategy. W. J. Hardee published the first revised infantry tactics for use with modern rifles in 1855. However, even these tactics proved ineffective in combat, as it involved massed volley fire, in which entire units (primarily regiments) would fire simultaneously. These tactics had not been tested before in actual combat, and the commanders of these units would post their soldiers at incredibly close range, compared to the range of the rifled musket, which led to disastrous mortality rates. In a sense, the weapons had evolved beyond the tactics, which would soon change as the war drew to a close. Railroads provided the first mass movement of troops. The electric telegraph was used by both sides, which enabled political and senior military leaders to pass orders to and receive reports from commanders in the field.

There were many other innovations brought by necessity. Generals were forced to reexamine the offensive minded tactics developed during the Mexican–American War
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

 where attackers could mass to within 100 yards of the defensive lines, the maximum effective range of smoothbore muskets. Attackers would have to endure one volley of inaccurate smoothbore musket fire before they could close with the defenders. But by the civil War, the smoothbores had been replaced with rifled muskets, using the quick loadable minié ball, with accurate ranges up to 900 yards. Defense now dominated the battlefield. Now attackers, whether advancing in ordered lines or by rushes, were subjected to three or four aimed volleys before they could get among the defenders. This made offensive tactics that were successful only 20 years before nearly obsolete.

Desertions and draft riots


Desertion
Desertion
In military terminology, desertion is the abandonment of a "duty" or post without permission and is done with the intention of not returning...

 was a major problem for both sides. The daily hardships of war, forced marches, thirst, suffocating heat, disease, delay in pay, solicitude for family, impatience at the monotony and futility of inactive service, panic on the eve of battle, the sense of war weariness, the lack of confidence in commanders, and the discouragement of defeat (especially early on for the Union Army), all tended to lower the morale of the Union Army and to increase desertion.

In 1861 and 1862, the war was going badly for the Union Army and there were, by some counts, 180,000 desertions. In 1863 and 1864, the bitterest two years of the war, the Union Army suffered over 200 desertions every day, for a total of 150,000 desertions during those two years. This puts the total number of desertions from the Union Army during the four years of the war at nearly 350,000. Using these numbers, 15% of Union soldiers deserted during the war. Official numbers put the number of deserters from the Union Army at 200,000 for the entire war, or about 8% of Union Army soldiers. It is estimated that 1 out of 3 deserters returned to their regiments, either voluntarily or after being arrested and being sent back. Many of the desertions were by "professional" bounty men, men who would enlist to collect the often large cash bonuses and then desert at the earliest opportunity to do the same elsewhere. If not caught, it could prove a very lucrative criminal enterprise.

The Irish were also the main participants in the famous "New York Draft Riots
New York Draft Riots
The New York City draft riots were violent disturbances in New York City that were the culmination of discontent with new laws passed by Congress to draft men to fight in the ongoing American Civil War. The riots were the largest civil insurrection in American history apart from the Civil War itself...

" of 1863 (as dramatized in the film Gangs of New York
Gangs of New York
Gangs of New York is a 2002 historical film set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City. It was directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan. The film was inspired by Herbert Asbury's 1928 nonfiction book, The Gangs of New...

). The Irish had shown the strongest support for Southern aims prior to the start of the war and had long had an enmity with black populations in several Northern cities dating back to nativist attacks on Irish immigrants in the 1840s, when it was observed that blacks, who rivaled the Irish at the bottom of the economic ladder, were frequently reported encouraging on nativist mobs.

With the view that the war was an upper class abolitionist war led in large part by former nativists to free a large black population, which might move north and compete for jobs and housing, the poorer classes did not welcome a draft, especially one from which a richer man could buy an exemption. As a result of the Enrollment Act
Enrollment Act
The Enrollment Act, , enacted March 3, 1863, was legislation passed by the United States Congress during the American Civil War to provide fresh manpower for the Union Army. A form of conscription, the controversial act required the enrollment of every male citizen and those immigrants who had...

, rioting began in several Northern cities, the most heavily hit being New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. A mob reported as consisting principally of Irish immigrants rioted in the summer of 1863, with the worst violence occurring in July during the Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg , was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War, it is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac...

. The mob set fire to everything from African American churches and an orphanage for "colored children" as well as the homes of certain prominent Protestant abolitionists. A mob was reportedly repulsed from the offices of the staunchly pro-Union New York Tribune
New York Tribune
The New York Tribune was an American newspaper, first established by Horace Greeley in 1841, which was long considered one of the leading newspapers in the United States...

by workers wielding and firing two Gatling guns. The principal victims of the rioting were African Americans and activists in the anti-slavery movement. Not until victory was achieved at Gettysburg could the Union Army be sent in; some units had to open fire to quell the violence and stop the rioters. By the time the rioting was over, perhaps up to 1,000 people had been killed or wounded (estimates varied widely, now and then).

See also

  • Grand Army of the Republic
    Grand Army of the Republic
    The Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the Union Army, US Navy, US Marines and US Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War. Founded in 1866 in Decatur, Illinois, it was dissolved in 1956 when its last member died...

  • Military history of African Americans
    Military history of African Americans
    The military history of African Americans spans from the arrival of the first black slaves during the colonial history of the United States to the present day...

  • Uniform of the Union Army
    Uniform of the Union Army
    The Uniform of the Union Army was widely varied and, due to limitations on supply of wool and other materials, based on availability and cost of materials during the United States Civil War.- Generalization :The standard U.S...

  • United States National Cemeteries
  • Hispanics in the American Civil War
    Hispanics in the American Civil War
    Hispanics in the American Civil War fought on both the Union and Confederate sides of the conflict. It is estimated that approximately 3,500 Hispanics, mostly Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans living in the United States joined the war: 2500 for the Confederacy and 1000 for the Union...


Further reading

  • Nevins, Allan
    Allan Nevins
    Allan Nevins was an American historian and journalist, renowned for his extensive work on the history of the Civil War and his biographies of such figures as President Grover Cleveland, Hamilton Fish, Henry Ford, and John D. Rockefeller.-Life:Born in Camp Point, Illinois, Nevins was educated at...

    . The War for the Union. Vol. 1, The Improvised War 1861 – 1862. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1959. ISBN 0-684-10426-1.
  • Nevins, Allan. The War for the Union. Vol. 2, War Becomes Revolution 1862 – 1863. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1960. ISBN 1-56852-297-5.
  • Nevins, Allan. The War for the Union. Vol. 3, The Organized War 1863 – 1864. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971. ISBN 0-684-10428-8.
  • Nevins, Allan. The War for the Union. Vol. 4, The Organized War to Victory 1864 – 1865. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971. ISBN 1-56852-299-1.
  • Shannon, Fred A. The Organization and Administration of the Union Army 1861-1865. 2 vols. Gloucester, MA: P. Smith, 1965. . First published 1928 by A.H. Clark Co.
  • Welcher, Frank J. The Union Army, 1861–1865 Organization and Operations. Vol. 1, The Eastern Theater. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. ISBN 0-253-36453-1.
  • Welcher, Frank J. The Union Army, 1861–1865 Organization and Operations. Vol. 2, The Western Theater. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-253-36454-X.

External links