Portal:American Civil War
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Portal:American Civil War

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Rodman gun
A Rodman gun exhibited at the 1876 U.S. Centennial
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The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a sectional rebellion against the United States of America by the Confederate States, formed of eleven southern states' governments which moved to secede from the Union after the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. The Union's victory was eventually achieved by leveraging advantages in population, manufacturing and logistics and through a strategic naval blockade denying the Confederacy access to the world's markets.

In many ways, the conflict's central issues - the enslavement of African Americans, the role of constitutional federal government, and the rights of states  - are still not completely resolved. Not surprisingly, the Confederate army's surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865 did little to change many Americans' attitudes toward the potential powers of central government. The passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution in the years immediately following the war did not change the racial prejudice prevalent among Americans of the day; and the process of Reconstruction did not heal the deeply personal wounds inflicted by four brutal years of war and more than 970,000 casualties - 3 percent of the population, including approximately 560,000 deaths. As a result, controversies affected by the war's unresolved social, political, economic and racial tensions continue to shape contemporary American thought. The causes of the war, the reasons for the outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of much discussion even today.


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The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States". Because of the nature of its criteria, the medal is often awarded posthumously.

Early in the Civil War, Public Resolution 82, containing a provision for a Navy Medal of Valor, was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln on December 21, 1861. The medal was "to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and Marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war." Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles directed the Philadelphia Mint to design the new decoration. Shortly afterward, a resolution of similar wording was introduced on behalf of the Army and was signed into law on July 12, 1862. This measure provided for awarding a Medal of Honor, as the Navy version also came to be called: "to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities, during the present insurrection."

Six Union soldiers who hijacked the General, a Confederate locomotive were the first recipients. Raid leader James J. Andrews, a civilian hanged as a Union spy, did not receive the medal. Many Medals of Honor awarded in the 19th century were associated with saving the flag, not just for patriotic reasons, but because the flag was a primary means of battlefield communication. During the time of the Civil War, no other military award was authorized, and to many this explains why some seemingly less notable actions were recognized by the Medal of Honor during that war.

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The U.S. state of Maine was a source of military manpower, supplies, ships, arms, and political support for the Union Army. Maine was the first state in the northeast to be aligned with the new Republican Party, partly due to the influence of evangelical Protestantism, and partly to the fact that Maine was a frontier state, and thus receptive to the party's "free soil" platform. Abraham Lincoln chose Maine's Hannibal Hamlin as his first Vice President, and said on meeting Brunswick novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe (the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin), "so this is the little lady who made this big war".

Maine was so enthusiastic for the cause that it ended up contributing a larger number of combatants, in proportion to its population, than any other Union state. It was second only to Massachusetts in the number of its sailors who served in the Union Navy. Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain (later a major general) and the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment played a key role at the Battle of Gettysburg, and the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment lost more men in a single charge (during the Siege of Petersburg) than any Union regiment in the war.

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Frank Dwight Baldwin, (June 26, 1842 – April 22, 1923) a native of Constantine, Michigan, and born in Manchester, Michigan, is one of only 19 servicemen to receive the Medal of Honor twice. Baldwin received this award for his actions during the Atlanta Campaign where he led his company to battle at Peachtree Creek and captured two commissioned officers in the American Civil War. He received his second Medal of Honor for conspicuous bravery in 1874 during the Indian Wars.

He served through the Civil War in the 19th Michigan Infantry, fighting in all his regiment's battles from 1862 to 1865. Upon the postbellum reorganization of the Regular Army, he was commissioned into the 19th United States Regular Infantry as a Second Lieutenant. He eventually was assigned to the 5th U.S. Infantry, with whom he fought in the various frontier conflicts with the Indians. His actions in an attack on an Indian village on the Red River in Montana on December 18, 1876, earned him a brevet of Captain, U.S. Regular Army (awarded on February 27, 1890).

He served with distinction under General Nelson A. Miles as chief of scouts during campaigns against Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Baldwin also served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. He was promoted to Brigadier General, U.S. Regular Army on June 9, 1902. In 1906, he was advanced to Major General, after which he retired from active duty.

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Credit: Unknown

Members of the United States Colored Troops at Dutch Gap, Virginia

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The West Tennessee Raids
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Ebenezer MagoffinHenry MauryJames Ashby (soldier)Albemarle CadyBenjamin D. FearingCharles A. HickmanRichard Henry JacksonJohn LovePeter S. MichieThomas Grimke RhettJames B. SpeersCharles S. SteedmanBattle of Barton's StationBattle of Camp DaviesGeorge Peabody EsteyLawrence P. GrahamJoseph Hayes (general)Lewis Cass HuntThomas John LucasSullivan Amory MeredithWilliam Reading MontgomeryCharles Hale MorganByron Root PierceCalvin Edward PrattDaniel Henry RuckerFriend Smith RutherfordGustavus Adolphus SmithJames Hughes StokesWilliam Kerley StrongFrederick S. SturmbaughWilliam B. TibbitsDavis TillsonAdin Ballou UnderwoodFrancis Laurens VintonLouis Douglass WatkinsWilliam Denison WhippleRequested American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients
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Battle of BoonsboroughBattle of Cabin CreekBattle of Fort Sumter IIBattle of Guard HillBattle of Middle Boggy DepotBattle of Rice's StationBattle of Simmon's BluffBattle of Summit PointBattle of Yellow BayouCharleston ArsenalEdenton Bell BatteryElmira PrisonFirst Battle of DaltonSamuel BentonBlackshear PrisonOrris S. FerryEdwin ForbesHiram B. GranburyHenry Thomas HarrisonBen Hardin HelmLouis Hébert (colonel)Benjamin G. HumphreysLunsford L. LomaxMaynard CarbineDaniel RugglesThomas W. ShermanHezekiah G. SpruillSmith Percussion CarbineEdward C. WalthallConfederate States Secretary of the NavyConfederate States Secretary of the TreasuryDavid Henry WilliamsBattle of Rome Cross RoadsHenry Boynton ClitzDelaware in the American Civil WarIronclad BoardUnited States Military RailroadKansas in the American Civil WarSalisbury National CemeteryOther American Civil War battle stubsOther American Civil War stubs
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Battle of Lone JackJames S. RainsPreston Pond, Jr.Melancthon SmithFranklin Stillman NickersonThomas Gamble PitcherWilliam H. PenroseLewis B. Parsons Jr.Isaac Ferdinand QuinbyJames W. ReillyIsaac F. ShepardFrancis Trowbridge ShermanJames R. SlackJoseph Pannell TaylorHenry Goddard ThomasJames Henry Van AlenMelancthon S. WadeJames M. Warner
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1st Regiment New York Mounted Rifles and 7th Regiment New York Volunteer Cavalry
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1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment (Union)4th Maine Battery33rd Ohio Infantry110th New York Volunteer InfantryBattle of Hatcher's RunBattle of Grand GulfCamp DennisonConfederate coloniesCSS ResoluteDakota War of 1862Florida in the American Civil WarEthan A. Hitchcock (general)Fort Harker (Alabama)Gettysburg (1993 film)Iowa in the American Civil War
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