Remembering the bloodiest four years in American history
The Civil War is one of the most significant events in American history fought from 1861 to 1865.
In response to the election of an anti-slavery Republican as President, Abraham Lincoln, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ("the Confederacy"); the other 25 states supported the federal government ("the Union").
It was a war between the Confederacy and the Union battling over states rights and slavery. Hostilities began April 12, 1861, with an attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
The American Civil War was one of the earliest true industrial wars. Railroads, the telegraph, steamships, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively. The practices of total war and of trench warfare around Petersburg foreshadowed World War I in Europe. It remains the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 750,000 soldiers.
In Photo: In this photo a group of African Americans on J.J. Smith's plantation, Beaufort, S.C., pose for a photograph in 1862.
Photos: AP, AFP and Reuters