The American Civil War was fought from April 12th, 1861 to May 9th, 1865 between the Confederate States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia) and the Union. Most believe it was about ending slavery, but that’s a myth.
The Civil War was about bringing the rebellious Confederate States back into the Union. That slavery ended in the aftermath was just icing on the cake. There’s a lot more about the Civil War that most don’t know about, including the following ten.
1. The Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln on 1 January 1863 did not ban slavery.
It only applied to slaves who managed to escape the Confederate States into Union territory. These ex-slaves could join the military in return for a salary, but could not become Union citizens.
Before the Proclamation, the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 obligated non-slave states to return escaped slaves back to their owners. The Proclamation was meant to punish the Confederate States, not make slavery illegal. Since Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Tennessee didn’t rebel against the Union, they were allowed to keep their slaves.
2. Lincoln wanted to deport all blacks from the country.
This policy was created in 1817 when the American Colonization Society set up Liberia in West Africa to deal with the issue of free blacks in America. By 1822, the first African-Americans were resettled there with mixed reactions from the black community.
Lincoln thought it was a great idea, however. In August 1862, he invited several black ministers to the White House to pitch the idea to them. He even offered to set up a similar colony in Latin America with Congressional funding, but the ministers unanimously rejected the president’s offer.
3. Lincoln was shot at two years before his assassination.
The president had a habit of working late in the White House. He would then ride home alone to the Soldier’s House where he lived, because it was inside the guarded compound.
Sometime in August 1863, he was riding home when a shot rang out at 11PM. The unknown sniper had shot a hole in the president’s hat, but failed to hit his target. Lincoln’s horse panicked and reared, which probably made him even harder to hit. After that incident, Lincoln was always escorted by soldiers back to his house.
4. Black soldiers in the Union Army refused payment for 18 months.
This was not done out of gratitude, however, but out of protest because they were paid far less than their white counterparts. Black soldiers, both those born free as well as those who gained their freedom, began signing up in 1863 and were paid $10 a month. Whites, on the other hand, got $13.
Blacks were also charged $3 a month for uniforms, reducing their take-home pay to $7. Their protest worked, and with the support of white abolitionists, they received equal pay in 1864, which was made retroactive.
5. The Union Army was a multi-national one.
Records show that about one-third were immigrants – the largest being Germans, who made up about 10%, the most notable being the German group who joined the Steuben Volunteers. Irish soldiers comprised about 8% of the Union Army, followed by English, French, Italian, Polish, and Scottish nationals.
When free blacks were allowed to serve in 1863, they made up one-tenth of the Union Army, and when runaway slaves managed to cross into Union territories, many also joined the Army. Some historians believe that this influx helped to turn the tide in favor of the Union.
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