This great struggle was actually begun when, after the attack on Fort Sumter
, in Charleston Harbor
, in April, 1861, President Lincoln
, recognizing the fact that a part of the people in the Union
were in a state of rebellion, called for 75,000 men (April 15, 1861) to suppress the insurrection.
Then an immediate arming and other preparations for the impending struggle began in all parts of the republic, and very soon hostile armies came in contact.
The first overt act of war was committed by the Confederates
in Charleston Harbor
at the beginning of 1861 (see Star of the West
). The last struggle of the war occurred in Texas
, near the battle-ground of Palo Alto
, on May 13, 1865, between Confederates and the 63d United States regiment of colored troops, who fired the last volley.
The last man wounded in the Civil War
was Sergeant Crockett
, a colored soldier.
The whole number of men called into the military service of the government in the army and navy during the war was 2,656,553.
Of this number about 1,490,000 men were in actual service.
Of the latter, nearly 60,000 were killed in the field and about 35,000 were mortally wounded.
Diseases in camp and hospitals slew 184,000.
It is estimated that at least 300,000 Union soldiers perished during the war. Fully that number of Confederate soldiers lost their lives, while the aggregate number of men, including both armies, who were crippled or permanently disabled by disease, was estimated at 400,000.
The actual loss to the country of able-bodied men caused by the rebellion was fully 1,000,000.
The total cost of the war has been moderately estimated at $8,000,000,000. This sum includes the debt which on Aug. 31, 1865, had reached $2,845,907,626.56; the estimated value of the slaves was $2,000,000,000; in addition about $800,000,000 were spent during the war by the government, mainly in war expenses, and large outlays were made by States; one estimate of the total pension bill raises this item to $1,500,000,000. The property destroyed is beyond computation.
The harmony of action in the several States which first adopted ordinances of secession seemed marvellous.
It was explained in a communication published in the National Intelligencer
, written by a “distinguished citizen of the South
, who formerly represented his State in the popular branch of Congress,” and was then temporarily residing in Washington
He said a caucus of the senators of seven cotton-producing States (naming them) had been held on the preceding Saturday night, in that city, at which it was resolved, in effect, to assume to themselves political power at the South
, and to control all political and military operations for the time; that they telegraphed directions to complete the seizures of forts, arsenals, customhouses, and all other public property, and advised conventions then in session, or soon to assemble, to pass ordinances for immediate secession.
They agreed that it would be proper for the representatives of “seceded States” to remain in Congress, in order to prevent the adoption of measures by the national government for its own security.
They also advised, ordered, or directed the assembling of a convention at Montgomery, Ala.
, on Feb. 15. “This can,” said the writer, “of course, only be done by the revolutionary conventions usurping the power of the people, and sending delegates over whom they will lose all control in the establishment of a provisional government, which is the plan of the dictators.”
This was actually done within thirty days afterwards.
They resolved, he said, to use every means in their power to force the legislatures of Tennessee
, and Maryland
into the adoption of revolutionary measures.
They had already possessed themselves of the telegraph, the press, and wide control of the postmasters in the South
; and they relied upon a general defection of the Southern-born members of the army and navy.
Of the 11,000,000 inhabitants in the slave-labor States at the beginning of the Civil War
, the ruling class in the South
— those in whom resided in a remarkable degree the political power of those States— numbered about 1,000,000.
Of these the large land and slave holders, whose influence in the body of 1,000,000 was almost supreme, numbered less than 200,000.
In all the Southern States
, in 1850, less than 170,000 held 2,800,000 out of 3,300,000 slaves.
The production of the great staple,
cotton, which was regarded as king of kings, in an earthly sense, was in the hands of less than 100,000 men. The 11,000,000 inhabitants in the slave-labor States in 1860 consisted of 6,000,000 small slave-holders, and non-slave-holders, mechanics, and laboring-men; 4,000,000 negro slaves, and 1,000,000 known in those regions by the common name of “poor white trash,” a degraded population scattered over the whole surface of those States.
These figures are round numbers, approximately exact according to published statistics.
Chronology of the War.
The following is a brief record of the most important of the minor events of the war, the greater ones being treated more at length under readily suggestive titles: