Chapter 20 Notes – The Civil War (Part 2)
The Merrimac and the Monitor
- The Confederates had a very small navy, but they covered a wooden ship,
called the Merrimac, with Iron plates and added a powerful ram to the front
of the ship.
- The Union responded by building their own ironclad ship called the Monitor.
- The Confederates used the Merrimac to sink three Union ships, all made of
wood. They were trying to break through the Union blockade.
- They would have been successful until the Monitor showed up.
- Both ships shot cannons at each other and rammed each other with no
damage being done.
- Neither side could claim victory.
- After the battle, both sides built more ironclad ships, but the South was never
able to build enough to end the Northern blockade.
Siege of Vicksburg
- Vicksburg was the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River.
- Vicksburg was bombarded with cannons for six weeks before surrendering
on July 4th, 1863 – this date is an important turning point in the war for two
o #1. The Union now controlled the entire Mississippi River.
o #2. At Gettysburg, General Lee had been defeated and crossed back
over into Southern territory.
It was the first battle of the war that Lee had lost.
African Americans and the War
- At first most of the North regarding the conflict as a “white man’s war,” but in
1862 Congress decided to enlist African-American recruits.
- 186,000 enlisted in the Union and another 30,000 joined the Union navy,
most of them were former slaves.
- Massachusetts was one of the first states to organize black regiments.
- The most famous regiment was the 54th Massachusetts infantry.
o When the soldiers of the 54th learned that they were getting paid less
than the white soldiers, they protested by not taking any pay.
o Congress backed down with the urging of Lincoln and granted them
o They were also famous for a “suicide mission” they volunteered for at
Fort Wagner, South Carolina.
Over half of their infantry was killed in the assault on Fort
Their bravery won them widespread respect throughout the
o Every African American soldier that fought risked death or
enslavement if they were captured.
- Lincoln had been searching all war for a commander that would fight the
- He finally found that commander in Ulysses S. Grant in 1864.
- Grant used his advantage of reinforcements unlike his predecessors.
o He relentlessly attacked Lee and the Confederates in Virginia knowing
that he had more men.
Many Union soldiers died under Grant’s command, but he was
- Grant believed in the concept of total war.
Total War - war on the enemy’s:
#1. Will to fight
#2. Its ability to support an army.
o The Union wanted everyone in the South to feel the effects of war, so
that they would never think of seceding again.
- He sent one of his most trusted generals, William Sherman, to Georgia with
instructions to “Inflict all the damage you can against their war resources.”
o When Sherman’s army reached Atlanta they:
Burned fields and supplies
o From Atlanta, Sherman headed north to South Carolina and wreaked
havoc on the first state to secede from the Union.
- Sherman’s success in the South was enough to get Lincoln re-elected in 1864.
o *Remember – Success for re-election during a war, usually depends on
how that war is going.
Appomattox Court House
- Grant continued to pester Lee in Virginia.
- Only April 3rd, 1865, Union forces captured Richmond.
- General Lee knew that war was over. He is quoted as saying, “There is
nothing left for me do but go and see General Grant, and I would rather die a
- On April 9th, 1865, General Lee surrendered to General Grant in the village of
Appomattox Court House.
- Grant allowed Confederate soldiers to go home if they promised to fight no
longer. The war was over.
- In the new country, slavery and secession no longer existed. But they both
came at quite a cost:
o Billions of dollars had been spent.
o More than 620,000 total soldiers were dead.
o It was take the South generations to recover from the environmental
destruction of their towns and fields.
- The Civil War is known as the first modern war, because it was the first to
happen after the Industrial Revolution. Examples of the Industrial
Revolution playing a part in the war:
o Armored Ships
o More accurate weapons
o Total War