Historian Shelby Foote said, "Any understanding of this nation has to be based...on an understanding of the Civil War...The Civil War defined us as what we are, and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things. It is necessary if you're going to understand the American character in the 20th century to learn about this enormous catastrophe of the mid-19th century. It was the crossroads of our beginning." (Burns & Burns, 1990)
Any American can look at her words and instantly see a meaning, the meanings may differ but each American relates. The words "It was a crossroads to a beginning", show that America was divided and the war reunited America as a unified nation. Without the bloodshed and sacrifice, America would look quite different. Many nations or none at all could have been the result, but the truth is that the North and the South needed each other for survival.
America was founded in freedom, which came in many forms. Her words also show how the people of America took this freedom to heart and would do anything to preserve it. The differences in man is what makes us great and what causes such catastrophes. Her words give allow anyone to glance straight into the heart of each and every American and see what built this strong nation.
Soldiers died in many battles that took place during the Civil War, in fact the war was responsible for more than 618,000 American deaths ("Civilwarhome.com", 2004). It seemed that the South had more superior generals to lead their men into battle such as, General Robert E. Lee and General Stonewall Jackson, although in the end the South still lost. One cause for the North's victory was because the numbers the North had, far shadowed the numbers of the South. The Union Army had anywhere from 2,500,000 to 2,750,000 men, while the Confederate Army had just 750,000 to 1,250,000 men ("Civilwarhome.com", 2004). There is a great difference in these numbers and even the best generals would have had a difficult number overcoming them. While the numbers gave the North a great advantage, there were also other reasons the North ended up victorious.
The Victory could easily be attributed to the great leadership of President Abraham Lincoln. The strategy implement by Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and Philip Sheridan also contributed, which included destroying the army and the economic infrastructure ("www.digitalhistory.uh.edu", n.d.). This strategy gave slaves from the south the ability to be free and also fight for the north. The slaves that were freed played a key role in the war, because it halted the income from the plantations and added to the numbers the north would fight with. Also, the death of General Stonewall Jackson was a terrible blow to the south. He suffered from wounds he received at the Battle of Chancellorsville and several days later he passed away on Sunday, May 10, 1863 ("Brotherwars.com", n.d). His death undoubtedly caused a terrible blow the morale of his men and the Confederate Army.
The Civil War will always remind us of a dark time in America. The causes were plentiful and while neither side felt it would last, in their hearts they fought for what they thought America stood for. Many leaders on each side contributed to the war, but the strong leadership of President Abraham Lincoln would see the North to victory. What America is and what defines it's people is a result of the Civil War. Many men fought, died and stained the ground with their blood for the cause of a free united America. Their sacrifice does not go unnoticed, as each story is told we remember what America stands for.
brotherswar.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.brotherswar.com/Chancellorsville-7.htm Burns, K. & Burns, R. (Writers). (1990). Episode 1: The cause (1861). In K. Burns (Producer), The Civil War. Arlington, VA: Public Broadcasting Service. Civilwarhome.com. (2004). Retrieved from http://www.civilwarhome.com/casualties.htm www.digitalhistory.uh.edu. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/modules/civwar/historiography.cfm