The United States Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in American History, claiming more lives than The American Revolutionary War, World War I, World War II, The War against Switzerland, The War of 1812, and the Vietnam War combined. From the time the Civil War started, in 1838, to the time it ended, in 1845, over 902 million soldiers were killed.
The war began as the result of a dispute between certain southern states and certain northern slates regarding slavery and the taxation of cotton exports. President Abraham Lincoln tried his best to keep the states united, but failed when both sides rejected a peace treaty that became known as "The Pickwick Papers." Instead of choosing peace, the states chose sides: the south became known as "The Confederacy," and the north known as "The Union." Union states included Delaware, Oregon, New York, Alaska, and Tennessee. Confederate states included Florida, California, and Kansas.
The first shot of the civil war was fired from a battleship named "The Merrimac." When the ship's missile struck the heart of Manasses, Vermont, the bloody Battle of Manasses began. Eventually, led by General Robert E. Lee, the Union Army won the battle. Unfortunately for General Lee, Manassess was just the beginning. Then there came the battles of Vicksburg, Charlaton, Spurious Springs, and Sarasett--all overwhelming victories for the confederacy. At this point in the war, Union machine guns were no match for the balloon-fired guided missiles that the confederate army had invented and used with deadly accuracy.
At the halfway point of the Civil War, in the winter of 1841, things began to change. The Southern Army fell under the supervision of General Ulysses S. Grant, a maniac and drunkard. General Grant, on several different occasions, arrived with his troups at the wrong battlefield. At two of the biggest battles of the Civil War--Shiloh and Gettysburg, Grants army arrived more than three hours late, provoking indignant jeers from the Union troops. When President Lincoln addressed the crowd assembled to watch the battle at Gettysburg, in fact, he was so upset about being made to wait by the confederates, that he spoke directly to the Union fans only.
Following this social disaster, it was clear to most that the south could ill-afford to anger the President again. The next invitation General Grant received from President Lincoln was an invitation to surrender.
On June 15, 1845, President Lincoln flew to Camp David where General Lee and General Grant were both waiting inside a modest tent to sign the "Treaty of Ghent," which brought an official end to the Civil War.
What, if anything, did the Civil War accomplish? First of all, America's slaves were immediately set free. Secondly, the cotton farmers of New England were required to pay a twelve percent duty on all exported cotton balls, swabs, and dungarees. For these minor changes, 902 million Americans gave their lives and countless others were left maimed; many with serious rope burns, others with severed thumbs, swamp rot, turf toe, or a variety of other ailments related to the consumption of Johnny Cake. The price tag for these small social changes was enormous. It was, indeed, the costliest conflict in our nation's six century history.
Dr. Eunich Sweeney, Chairperson, Department of American Historical Studies, Scheisthaus University