Where in the World is… a Civil War Battlefield!

Before we can find out where the battles were, we have to know which sides each state fought on. The Civil War divided the United States into North versus South, pretty evenly along the line of slave states versus non-slave states (but not exactly!). The Confederacy had 11 states, compared to the Union’s 24. Although not all of those states within the Union stayed very willingly. The border states, or states that were along the line between the Union and the Confederacy, were pretty torn about which side to join. If you Google “slave states” and then “states in the Confederacy,” you will find that it is a pretty similar list. In the map below, can you color the slave states one color and the free states another? Then, you can add some lines in those slave states that were a part of the Confederacy. This will let you see a map of who was fighting who!

The American Civil War had many battles that took place all over the country! But where was the first battle? Well, considering that South Carolina was the first southern state to leave the Union, it is appropriate that the first battle of the Civil War was fought in South Carolina. In a Union held fort of the coast of South Carolina, American soldiers lived and worked. That was called Fort Sumter, and after South Carolina left the Union, they decided that they wanted to take over Fort Sumter. So they launched an assault of fire on Fort Sumter in April 1861, eventually leading to the men inside surrendering. So the first battle of the Civil War took place in the first state to leave the Union. Fort Sumter is now part of the National Park Service, and if you visit their website, you can become your own Junior Ranger of Fort Sumter!

After about a year and a half of fighting, it was clear that the Confederacy was winning most of the battles. But neither side was willing to give up! Eventually, the two sides met again at Antietam Creek in Maryland. Here, they had horrendous battle on September 17, 1862. Antietam would become the bloodiest single day of the American Civil War. Antietam recorded over 22,000 casualties. A casualty is anyone that is killed, wounded or missing after the battle. That is a lot of people to be killed or hurt in just one day! But Antietam was a decisive victory for the Confederacy. It gave them the confidence they needed to move North, but it also gave President Lincoln the chance to issue the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Remember yesterday how we talked about slavery being one of the biggest reasons for the Civil War? Well, the Emancipation Proclamation freed all the slaves in the Confederacy! Lincoln hoped that this would encourage enslaved people to leave the south. Antietam is also now a part of the National Park Service, and you can get a Junior Ranger badge from them here! Can you get the questions correct about the Emancipation Proclamation below?

In June of 1863, the Confederates marched north, invading into Union territory. On July 1, 2, and 3, the northernmost battle of the Civil War would occur in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. For the first time, the Union was being attacked from the north! But, under the guidance of General Meade, the Union was able to hold out! And after three agonizing days of fighting, the Confederacy began to retreat! The Union had finally had a major victory! Gettysburg was an important battle because it stopped the momentum of the Confederate army. Because of that, this battle is often referred to as the turning point of the war; that meant that the Union went from losing almost every battle to picking up speed and winning more battles. But it came at a price. For three days of fighting, Gettysburg had over 50,000 casualties. Because of the high number of dead and wounded soldiers, a National Cemetery was created, and President Lincoln was asked to come speak at its dedication ceremony. There he delivered a powerful speech known as the Gettysburg Address. You can color a picture of him below! Or, if you would prefer a more in-depth version of the battle, you can check out a Gettysburg Online Scavenger Hunt!

Tomorrow, we will talk about the end of the war and what happened after it was over. But the soldiers had to have something to wear to all these battles, right? Well, one part of a Union soldiers uniform was his hat. This was a special type of hat called a kepi. This helped to identify the union soldiers, and some of them could also be used as a way to carry things. If you would like to make your own kepi, click here!

The soldiers who were fighting in these battles were being given rations to eat, much like the soldiers of World War II that we learned about. Again like the soldiers of World War II, the Union soldiers were given hardtack. But each side was giving their soldiers something different. Confederate soldiers were being given something they called “sloosh.” It was basically a cornmeal dough, wrapped around their guns ramrod and cooked over the fire. It looked a little something like the picture below. If you would like to try to make some Civil War soldier food, you can grab mom or dad and try out some of the recipes found here! And be sure to come back tomorrow for our last lesson on the Civil War!

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