Updated: Nov 10, 2020
We've all heard about the American Civil War and, in fact, many of us have great-grandfathers who fought and/or died fighting it - whether we know it or not. I had no knowledge of any war veterans in my family, but have found many in my genealogy quest! If you haven't found any of your own patriotic patriarchs, I encourage you to keep digging. (See my list of free places to find military records here).
The Civil War was a battle for freedom on both sides. The Northern States were populated primarily with descendants of Puritans who came during the Great Migration - devoted Christians and followers of the Bible, which taught righteousness and commanded love, mercy, and compassion. It also proclaimed with authority, that all men are equal and therefore, true Christians were staunchly opposed to slavery.
The powers that lead the Confederate (Southern) States also believed in freedom - the freedom to own slaves. They justified enslavement saying it was by divine providence - that they were favored over the slaves. According to them, it was God's will that slaves submit themselves and obey their masters.
According to the 1860 census, there were over 3.9 million slaves in the country, up 35% in just ten years, since the 1850 census [Source]. I assume this increase was partly due to slave masters taking ownership of any children of slaves born during the ten year period. Finally, good people stood up and decided it was an evil that had to end in America.
The brave men of the Union laid down their lives to defend and free the slaves and end the inhumane practice in America. It was not an easy fight, by any means. America suffered more casualties during the Civil War than we did in the Second World War, in fact. [Source] The Union lost 364,511 soldiers (plus 281,881 wounded) while the Confederates lost 260,000 (plus 194,000 wounded). In all, 624,511 lives were lost on the battlefields but in the end, true and righteous freedom reigned.
I believe if more Americans understood the cost of the freedom Americans enjoy today and how difficult it was to achieve and maintain, we would be far more careful who we elect into power. Today there are still those who prey on the weak and oppressed. We must continue to fight that evil and be that shining city upon a hill, with brotherly love and good will toward all people, fair, honest, industrious, courageous, charitable, loyal, and always keeping the faith.
Seeing these illustrations depicting the scenes they faced during just a few of the major battles of the Civil War really brings to life just how terrible the Civil War really was and why we should hope to never have to repeat it.
In the early days while photography was still being developed, people relied on artists and printmakers such as Currier & Ives to illustrate news stories of the day. Looking back at their works, we can see a chronicle of major events like the Civil War hand drawn in art. Many of the major battles were depicted in prints shown here. If your ancestors fought in any of these battles, you can find copies in various sizes, by clicking the item in the links below. (As an Amazon affiliate, I will receive a small portion of sale. Thank you in advance!)
April 13, 1861 - BOMBARDMENT OF FORT SUMTER, CHARLESTON HARBOR
April 19, 1861 - THE LEXINGTON OF 1861
July 21, 1861 - BATTLE OF BULL RUN 1861
February 15, 1862 - THE STORMING OF FORT DONELSON
March 9, 1862 - TERRIFIC COMBAT BETWEEN THE MONITOR AND MERRIMAC
April 7, 1862 - BOMBARDMENT AND CAPTURE OF ISLAND NUMBER TEN
April 24, 1862 - THE SPLENDID NAVAL TRIUMPH ON THE MISSISSIPPI
May 5, 1862 - BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA
May 31, 1862 - BATTLE OF FAIR OAKS, VIRGINIA
July 1, 1862 - BATTLE OF MALVERN HILL
August 4, 1862 - BATTLE OF BATON ROUGE
September 17, 1862 - BATTLE OF ANTIETAM, MARYLAND
October 4, 1862 - BATTLE OF CORINTH, MISSISSIPPI
December 13, 1862 - BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG
February 27, 1863 - IRON CLAD MONITOR MONTAUK
March 14, 1863 - FARRAGUT ENGAGING REBELS
April 7, 1863 - GREAT FIGHT AT CHARLESTON
May 3, 1863 - BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLE, VIRGINIA
July 3, 1863 - BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG
July 4, 1863 - CAPTURE OF VICKSBURG, MISSISSIPPI
September 20, 1863 - BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA, GEORGIA
November 25, 1863 - BATTLE OF CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE
May 6, 1864 - BATTLE OF THE WILDERNESS, VIRGINIA
May 12, 1864 - BATTLE OF SPOTTSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA
June 1, 1864 - BATTLE OF COAL HARBOR
June 19, 1864 - U.S. SLOOP OF WAR KEARSARGE
September 1, 1864 - BATTLE OF JONESBORO, GEORGIA
September 2, 1864 - CAPTURE OF ATLANTA, GEORGIA
September 19, 1864 - GREAT VICTORY IN THE SHENANDOAH VALLEY
April 2, 1865 - THE FALL OF RICHMOND VA. ON THE NIGHT OF APRIL 2ND 1865
April 2, 1865 - BATTLE OF PETERSBURG, VIRGINIA
April 9, 1865 - SURRENDER GENERAL LEE APPOMATTOX VIRGINIA