Tap to Read ➤

Interesting Facts about the American Civil War

Abhijit Naik Mar 4, 2020
That the barrage fire from the Battle of Gettysburg was heard in Pittsburgh, located more than 100 miles away, is just one of the several interesting facts about the American Civil War. There is a whole lot of facts about the American Civil War, each more interesting than the other.

Did You Know?

The American Civil War is known by several other names, including the War for the Union, War of the Rebellion, and the Brothers' War.

The American Civil War

The American Civil War was fought between the Confederate States of America and the Union, i.e., the US national government, between 1861 and 1865.
The Confederate States or Confederacy was formed by the eleven southern slave states, after they withdrew from the Union. The Union had the support of the free states as well as some border slave states in the north.

When Did it Begin?

The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861, with the Confederate forces attacking the US Military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Approximately 6000 encounters were reported throughout the war, most of which came from the southern United States.


Approximately 2,100,000 soldiers participated in the war on the behalf of the Union and 1,064,000 on behalf of the Confederates. The Union lost 360,000 of its men, of which 110,000 were killed on the battlefield. The Confederate forces lost 260,000 of their men, 93,000 of these lost their lives in the line of duty.

Ulysses S. Grant's Contribution

Ulysses S. Grant led an army of 533,000 men for the Union, after he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General in 1864. He went on to become the 18th President of the United States, serving the country for two terms from 1869 to 1877.

The Battle of Shiloh

In the Battle of Shiloh fought on the banks of the Tennessee river, the death toll was 23,700.
While the Union was led by Ulysses S. Grant and Don Carlos Buell, Albert Sidney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard were at the helm of the Confederate forces. More Americans fell in this battle than the combined casualties of all previous wars.

The Battle of Antietam

In the Battle of Antietam, the Union army claimed victory as the Confederates under General Robert E. Lee were forced to retreat from Maryland, only after 12,401 Union men perished in a single day. The Battle of Antietam was termed the bloodiest day of the civil war.

The Battle of Cold Harbor

At the Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia, 7000 Union soldiers were killed within a span of 20 minutes. It was a highly one-sided battle wherein the Union lost around 13,000 men over the period of 12 days, while the Confederates lost around 5,000 men.

USS Kearsarge vs CSS Alabama

A fierce encounter between USS Kearsarge and CSS Alabama was witnessed off the Cherbourg coast in France. The French gathered on the beach to witness this historical battle in the sea. The French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir reproduced this event on canvas. Renoir's painting is displayed at the Philadelphia Art Gallery.

Weapons Used

A single-shot muzzle-loading rifle was the most common weapon used during the American Civil War. It could be loaded thrice in a minute and had a range of a thousand yards. Approximately 80 percent of all wounds suffered by the soldiers were caused by this weapon.
The 'minie' ball, a bullet invented by Capt. Minie of the French army, also induced heavy casualties during this war. It was an inch-long, elongated bullet, made of soft lead, pointed at one end and hollow at the base.
Though artillery was extensively used in the war, only 10 percent of the casualties reported were caused by artillery fire. On an average, each soldier possessed seven pounds of ammunition, which included 40 rounds of cartridges in the cartridge box and 60 rounds carried in the bag.
Other than rifles and canons, weapons used in the American Civil War included revolvers, hand grenades, land mines, swords, knives, Greek fire, and cutlasses. Springfield rifles and Colt revolvers were very popular with soldiers. Also worth a mention is the Winans steam gun, which, though never used in a combat, was hailed as a super weapon back then.

Cause of Soldiers' Death

Most soldiers who lost their lives in this war succumbed to diseases. Only one-third of the casualties were due to wounds, while the remaining two-thirds died due to diseases like typhoid, malaria, pneumonia, dysentery, and arthritis, and some as a result of malnutrition.

The Use of Organized Ambulances

The Peninsula campaign and the Battle of Antietam marked the first use of organized ambulance corps. Over 1,100 ambulances were utilized in the Battle of Gettysburg. The wounded were carried off the battlefield and provided medical attention within 12 hours after the war ceased.

The First US Naval Hospital Ship

The USS Red Rover, the first US naval hospital ship, was used in inland waters during the Vicksburg campaign. The Red Rover was actually a Confederate vessel which was captured by the Union Navy and used as a summer hospital ship.

The End to the War

Finally the war, fought for almost four years, came to an end on April 9, 1865, with the Confederates surrendering to the Union forces. Eventually, in December 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified to abolish the practice of slavery forever.