The Confederate States of America was a confederation of secessionist American states that existed from 4 February 1861 to 5 May 1865, with Jefferson Davis serving as President and Alexander Stephens as Vice-President. The CSA was formed in response to President Abraham Lincoln's election as President, as the southern states feared that slavery would be abolished and the North would impose its control over the South. In the American Civil War, the secessionist CSA was defeated by the northern Union after a bloody war that saw over 500,000 Americans be killed by other Americans. The South's capital was Richmond, the state capital of Virginia, the most industrialized of the southern states.
The Confederate States of America was formed on 4 February 1861 when eleven states in the American South seceded from the United States and formed a confederation, with South Carolina being the first state to leave the Union. Their secession was in response to the electoral victory of Abraham Lincoln and the US Republican Party in the 1860 elections, as Lincoln ran on an anti-slavery platform and sought to emancipate the slaves. The Confederacy wanted to preserve slavery and establish an independent nation of the "Dixie" culture, free from the "Yankees" of the north, and another cause of their secession was their belief in states rights, believing that the southern states had the right to make decisions apart from northern states due to economic, cultural, and political differences. The Confederacy forced US Army troops to surrender or retreat from the South, but on 12 April 1861 the Union resisted at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Shots were fired, and a gunpowder explosion killed Union soldier Daniel Hough. As a result, the United States declared war on the CSA, and the American Civil War began.
American Civil War
The Confederacy responded to the declaration of war by raising armies of many volunteers from across the South, with most of them bringing their own uniforms. They used former US Army weapons and were mostly led by West Point graduates, many of whom had been classmates with their Civil War adversaries. One of these graduates was Robert E. Lee, who would be the leading Confederate general in the war after late 1862. The early years of the war, from 1861 to mid-1863, saw the Confederacy make serious gains and successfully defend them. The First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861 saw a failed Union invasion be thrown back north, and the end of the year saw Missouri be occupied by the Confederates. 1862 saw more Union attacks on Virginia be defeated due to George McClellan's over-cautious attitude and Ambrose Burnside's foolishness at the Battle of Fredericksburg, with the Confederates winning many defensive battles in the East. However, 1862 saw some major Confederate defeats, with the rising Union commander Ulysses S. Grant leading a successful campaign in the west that saw Forts Henry and Donelson fall to the Union, the Union winning the Battle of Shiloh, and David Farragut leading the capture of New Orleans after a blockade. The Battle of Antietam in the east saw Robert E. Lee take command of a large Confederate army and attempt to invade Maryland, but the Union emerged victorious over the Confederacy in the deadliest day in American history. Antietam was a warning sign that the war would not end quickly, and that more years of bloodshed had yet to come.
In 1863, the Union succeeded in more campaigns against the Confederates. Although the Confederacy won the Battle of Chancellorsville, their own troops accidentally killed the beloved general Stonewall Jackson, a blow to Confederate morale and performance on the battlefield. The Confederates lost the important cities of Port Hudson, Vicksburg, and Jackson to the Union in Alabama and Mississippi, and Charleston was besieged by the Union as their forces pushed from the West into the South. In Kentucky and Tennessee, Braxton Bragg's Confederate forces suffered more defeats at the hands of General Rosecrans' forces, and the Confederates were forced back. The worst defeat that year for the Confederates was the Battle of Gettysburg on 1-3 July 1863, which saw the high water mark of the Confederacy be achieved in Pickett's Charge before the Confederate forces were bloodily repulsed. The Union victory here was the turning point of the war, as the Confederates were forced to retreat back into Virginia. From then on, the Confederates were forced to wage defensive warfare.
In 1864, the Union won several more victories. The Union crushed the Confederates at the Battle of Franklin and Battle of Nashville, winning in the Western theater, while William T. Sherman led Union forces from Tennessee into Georgia after the Battle of Chattanooga and began his "March to the Sea", ravaging the countryside of Georgia and South Carolina while moving north. The concept of "total war" was born, and the South was heavily damaged; the Confederates gave up Atlanta without a fight. Florida was ignored for the most part, with the only battle being the Confederate victory at the Battle of Olustee; Texas was also without a major battle during the war. Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant invaded Virginia late in the year in the Overland Campaign, fighting a bloody campaign in which Union forces moved around Lee's forces after many battles and moved on Richmond, ignoring high losses. In early 1865, the war was an obvious defeat for the Confederates, with the West and the Deep South being occupied. The last Confederate forces were located in Texas, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina, and the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina forced Joseph E. Johnston to surrender his army to Sherman. Lee fought a desperate campaign against the Union, and the Battle of Petersburg saw the Union win a decisive victory. The last stand at the Battle of Five Forks was a Union victory, and Lee was forced to surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on 9 April 1865. Lee's surrender appeared to end the war, but on 14 April 1865 Lincoln was shot by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth and died the next day. It would not be until May that the last Confederate forces surrendered in Texas and Florida, and Davis was captured on 10 May. The war was finally over, and the South was occupied by the North.