A Quick Reference to the Civil War and Reconstruction As a Foundation for What America Becomes in the Gilded Age and After


What Is This Quick Reference For? This quick reference does not try to cover everything, but to provide a way to help you understand the essentials and to see how those essentials fit together. If you have a question, ask. Glad to help you.


Common Question about Dates and This History Class: Does having these dates in here mean students are expected to memorize them? The answer is “no.” To understand how things happened, you want to notice the order of events. Think of it this way: if you were watching two people fight, how you interpreted things would probably depend on who did what first.



Two Ways to Find What You Want

If you are looking for specific information, use Find (available in different ways on different systems). For example, if you missed a question (such as Emancipation Proclamation) on the quiz, you could press Ctrl-F, type a few letters (such as Procl), and follow the screen prompts to move through all uses of the word in this resource.


You can also click on the links below to go directly to something you want to use.

Civil War Between Brothers (and Sisters): Comparison of Strengths

Civil War Between Brothers: Comparison of Enlistments, the Wounded, and the Dead

South’s Assumptions About Their Success and the Reality of Each Assumption

Timeline: Civil War – April 1861 to April 1865

What Set the Direction for the Republican Party and for the Post-Civil War Era

What’s the Gilded Age and What Does Its Name Mean?

Timeline: Phases of Reconstruction to the Beginning of the Gilded Age – April 1865 to 1877



Civil War Between Brothers (and Sisters): Comparison of Strengths

Tip: Compare the column for the North and the South. Who might win in a short war? Who probably cannot win in a long war?



The Union (the North)

The Confederacy (the South)


23 states (4 slave[1]); 22M people.

11 states; 9M people (5.5M white; 3.5M slave)

Goal of war

Stop the secession (only later is slavery an official objective of the war)

Secede – Act like the Patriots in the American Revolution: avoiding defeat is enough.

Infrastructure, banking

Money in place (2X banking)


Infrastructure, communication

Communication in place (telegraph lines)


Infrastructure, government –people

Central bureaucracy in place – including for collecting taxes and dealing with revenue

Bureaucracy to build – including lacking a system for collecting taxes or dealing with revenue (Done by state governments.)

Infrastructure, government –system itself

Constitutional system of government

Government equivalent to Articles of Confederation

Infrastructure, manufacturing technology

Technology to manufacture; 6X South

¾ (and only 3% of firearm manufacture)

Infrastructure, government income

Printing paper money (greenbacks), but Legal Tender Act Taxes (income and tariff)

Printing $1 billion in paper money and few goods (What’s the result?)

Confederate bonds. Taxes (property and by 1863  “nearly everything”[2])

Infrastructure, transportation –land

Railroad network in place (some varied gauges)

Inadequate railroads (varied gauges)

Infrastructure, transportation –sea

Navy in place to block ports (no imports in, no cotton out).

Dependent on imports of war materials and on exports of cotton to British and French.

Infrastructure, transportation –sea - protection for

Navy in place

Navy on order from British and French


Abraham Lincoln

Jefferson Davis

Population, for manufacture

People to manufacture (quantity & consolidation)


Population, for military

400,000 soldiers = immigrants

20 slave/1 white exemption

Population, for military¾the negatives

(But NY draft riots in 1863)

(But 1865 law to conscript 300,000 slaves)

Population, for nursing

Women as nurses - notice wounded

Women as nurses

Raw materials for manufacturing

Raw materials

Raw materials

Overall strength

Diverse economy, diverse infrastructure, large population with immigrants

Agricultural economy, limited infrastructure – and it remains so during and after the war


Civil War Between Brothers: Comparison of Enlistments, the Wounded, and the Dead

The % numbers are from McPherson’s What They Fought For.  Numbers do not include losses from prisons (Encyclopedia of American History). Notice the difference in the Enlistments. Remember: 22 M in the North; 5.5, South.




The Union (the North)

The Confederacy (the South)

Enlistments – See the Basics above



Wounded – See nursing above


100,000 minimum

Dead, #



Dead, %




South’s Assumptions About Their Success and the Reality of Each Assumption




Britain and France need our cotton. “King Cotton diplomacy” will win.

Could get Egyptian cotton

Also needed Northern wheat

Britain and France need our orders for a navy—ironclads/rams.

Union threat of war with them, plus South’s failure to win at Gettysburg (1863)

Northwest needs our rivers to get to market.

Unaware of the Northeast-Northwest connection by canal and railroad grid

Rivers opened South to Union forces (US Grant in 1862)

We’re fighting a defensive war just like the Patriots.

War on the homeland—disruption of food supplies and civilian losses, as shown in Sherman’s March.

We’re experienced fighters.

North had Singer sewing machine, Borden milk, immigrant solders.

We have experienced generals.

North had, when he was sober, U.S. Grant; North had William Sherman.

We’re fighting for a higher cause of liberty.

Abraham Lincoln, Radical Congress, Radical officers, and the Emancipation Proclamation—Slavery became the cause and liberty became the cause.





Timeline: Civil War – April 1861 to April 1865

Tip on the History: Look at the map provided in the course with this resource. It has instructor’s notes.


Reminder: Does having these dates in here mean students are expected to memorize them? The answer is “no.” To understand how things happened, you want to notice the order of events. Think of it this way: if you were watching two people fight, how you interpreted things would probably depend on who did what first.


The date column in the timeline shows the year followed by the number of the month. For example:

1861-04 means 1861 in April





Fort Sumter (harbor of Charleston, SC)Union intent to “hold, occupy, and possess” federal property in the South.

Provisions in short supply, unarmed supply ship.

2 days firing by the South and surrender of fort.

South became the aggressor.

Threat to slavery in the South by Lincoln: none



Bull Run (near Manassas, VA)failure of Northern generals

Officially a Southern victory




Shiloh Church (near Pittsburgh Landing, TN)

A mixed outcome with each side having a claim to success, but the South is unable to stop the Union’s moves (led by U.S. Grant) into the Mississippi.


Antietam (creek near Sharpsburg, MD) - Lee attacked in the North.

2,100 Union deaths and 2,700 Confederate; wounded 18,500.

Stalemate, but Lee retreated¾Official victory Lincoln needed.


Emancipation Proclamation - freed slaves in rebellious territory only (where the Union troops conquered the South), not in the border states still in the Union—a beautiful chess move. His action

§  Did nothing that could be stopped (Northern Democrats could criticize, but not stop it.)

§  Did not offend the slave-holding Union states – Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky

§  Did give a reason for black freemen to join the Union army

§  Blocked Radical Republicans—pressing Lincoln for more hostile actions to South

§  Blocked the radical press—arguing for emancipation

§  Blocked the Radical military—freeing slaves they found and classifying them as contrabands
As the war continues, the former slaves are emancipated. (What’s a plantation without labor?)

§  Blocked French and British sentiment toward South (The British public was increasingly anti-slavery as were the textile workers, who remained supportive of the North even as they lost jobs.)


Threat to slavery in the South by Lincoln: only if a state continues to be in rebellion (but no Southern state took his offer)


Gettysburg (PA)¾Eastern part of the war  - Lee attacked in the North—the last time.


Why? Hopes for France and Great Britain as allies – for an equivalent to Saratoga in the American Revolution.

165,000 troops; Southern charge (George Pickett’s charge), 14,000-15,000 soldiers made it to engage the Union forces. Later, Confederate retreat.


§  Union had clout to threaten to Britain and France. (The South had no Saratoga.)

§  British blocked delivery of ironclads/rams

§  French blocked delivery of 6 vessels. (FYI: French in June had occupied Mexico City, placed Maxmilian of Austria as Emperor of Mexico.)


Vicksburg (MS)—Western part of the war  -Defeat of the South by Ulysses S. Grant – Confederacy now divided at the Mississippi; Mississippi now controlled by North.


Tip on the History: Look at the map of the war. Notice that the North has divided the South vertically at the Mississippi River. The North can now use the Mississippi to get to the Gulf of Mexico from the west.



Lincoln Plan¾Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction – a moderate, not a Radical

§  Premise—The states never left the Union.

§  Presidential control

§  10 % legal voters taking oath of allegiance accepting end of slavery

§  Amnesty with the oath

§  Legitimate state government, representatives and senators to Congress


1864 Per this plan, Arkansas, Tennessee reconstructed, but Congress not admit.


Tip on the History: Notice the offer to the South and the 10%. Do the math on the years: how long has this war lasted?

1864-05 - 09

Sherman’s March through Georgia to the Sea¾William T. Sherman

§  60,000 Union soldiers  - Their Orders: To “forage liberally on the country”

§  300 miles long

§  60 miles wide.


Tip on the History: Why would Sherman do this and at this time. Look at the map of the war. Notice that the North has now marched across the South diagonally from the West in Tennessee down to the East through Georgia.


Re-election of Lincoln over Democrat George B. McClellan, former General, means the war continues.


13th amendment¾passed

Tip on the History: What’s the difference between:

§  An amendment and a law?

§  Passing an amendment and ratifying it?  If you do not know, then ask. Glad to help you.


Sherman’s March to the Carolinas


Tip on the History: Look at the map of the war. Notice that the North has now marched across the South from Georgia through North and South Carolina.


Meeting: Hampton Roads (VA) – not in your book but useful to realize

Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward with Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens

Lincoln offered compensation for lost slaves.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis rejected the offer because he wanted independence


Tip on the History:  How realistic was the rejection? Do the math:

§  On the years: how long has this war lasted?

§  On the geography: how much has the North conquered?

§  On the number of population for a war: how many did each side have and how many at the end of the war?


Surrender at Appomattox Courthouse (VA) -  Previously at 165,000 before Gettysburg in 1863, Lee’s army to 25,000, rations short.


Lincoln assassinated


Post-Civil War Shift to Power in the North, in the Federal Government, and in Industrialists

The Republican Party’s predecessor parties led it to have many of the issues previously associated with the Whigs, such as favoring internal improvements. They also countered the Whigs; for example, the Whigs were becoming nativist and the countermove was being pro-immigration. The X’s in the table are based on specific lists of platform issues in the Encyclopedia of American History. Other issues may also have been in the parties’ platforms.


Issues in the Campaigns of the Varied Anti-Slavery Parties


Free Soil


1840, 1844





Free soil (including specifics such as supporting the Wilmot Proviso)


Pro-internal improvements in general and/or a transcontinental railroad






Homestead provision so people could get land












Pro (somewhat) protective tariff








Republican – Democrat Votes in House and Senate

Once the 11 Confederate states left the Union, those remaining in the Senate and House of Representatives could vote for what they wanted without having to negotiate with those favoring Southern issues.


The change in party balance shows the results of secession: the Northern Senators and Congressmen can get the laws they want—and you’ll see below. The South will not have representatives and Senators until they





Senators, Democratic



Senators, Republican



Representatives, Democratic



Representatives, Republican




What Republican Legislation from 1861 to 1864 Set the Direction of the Post-Civil War Era?

The issues passed by these Senators and Representatives included:

§  1861—Increased protective tariff with subsequent additions through 1869 raising tariffs to the rate of just under 50% (Protective tariffs helped industrialists and became a Republican principle.)

§  1862 +—Transcontinental railroad established—land grants for a Northern route

§  1862—Homestead Act—160 acres of public land to heads of families for residence for five years, a small fee (In 1866 there was an equivalent act for Southern blacks, but its implementation was blocked by landowners short of labor in the South.)

§  1862—Land grant colleges (Morrill Act)—30,000 acres to states in the Union for each Congressional office held (Senator or Representative) to establish agriculture colleges (70 established)

§  1864—National banking system—uniform currency, with a tax on state bank notes driving them out of circulation (greenbacks again backed by gold in mid-1870s)

Timeline: Phases of Reconstruction to the Beginning of the Gilded Age – April 1865 to 1877




Reminder: Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse (VA)


Reminder: 13th amendment ended slavery¾passed (not yet ratified by the states.


What do former slaves do? Seek family separated from them. In the future, they form churches and schools.



Andrew Johnson, former Vice-President, a “War Democrat” – His plan for restoration of the Union

§  Premise—Like Lincoln’s plan, the states never left the Union

§  Presidential control like Lincoln’s plan but he is lenient to white supremacists, such as those writing “black codes.”


Black Codes¾New state legislatures started passing. Vagrancy laws forced employment with private individuals to pay fines; forbidden to rent or own land, could not change jobs, could not do work other than as farm or domestic labor.


Tip on the History:

§  Where have you heard the name black codes or a similar name?

§  Ask yourself how you would feel when you heard this if you’d had a son or brother die for the Northern cause or if you were a Congressman?


13th amendment¾ratified

Johnson - Per his plan, 10 states ready for restoration.


Ku Klux Klan started

Intent white supremacy; used violence, continued past 1869, when officially disbanded.

1866 +

Congressional Reconstruction had been:

§  Congressional control

§  50 % legal voters took oath of allegiance accepting end of slavery


Tip on the History: Notice the percentage (It’s not the 10% as with Lincoln’s offer or Johnson’s offer.)
Do the math on the years: how long has it been since the Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse? How are the North and South acting thus far?



Actions by the national government in the South using the Freedman’s Bureau—freedmen and abandoned lands—included education program


Actions by individual and groups of African Americans in the South: formation of churches and schools.


Civil Rights Act¾Congress overrode Johnson veto


14th amendment started with ratification required for readmission—Tennessee ratified and was readmitted to Union.

Key provisions that remain significant today:

-       Those born in the United States are citizens. (Deals with Dred Scott case.)

-       States cannot violate “due process of law” – laws like the “black codes” (The 5th amendment had said Congress could not.)


Provisions that mattered then and the 14th amendment stopped:

-       The South had been trying to pay the Confederate war debt

-       The South had been electing Confederates who had previously made an oath to support the Constitution.


Question: What’s the Southern expectation? Why not join in?    Because other Southern states thought Radical Republicans would be defeated with the Congressional elections; they were wrong.


Race riots against blacks, New Orleans and Memphis


Tip on the History:  What is a riot?


Congressional ElectionsNorthern public furious and elect a large enough majority of Republicans that Johnson could not veto the laws they pass.


Tip on the History: What had the voters been reading in the newspapers in the North about the events in the South? So what kind of Congressman do you think the voters in the North vote for?


1867 +

Congressional Reconstruction becomes:

§     First Reconstruction Act

§     Military Reconstruction (5 districts) – military rule

§     Expansion of Freedman’s Bureau


Requires new state constitutions (without “black codes”) and that the states ratify the 14th Amendment, not just the 13th.


Fifteenth Amendment proposed - Consequences on women’s suffrage and women’s organizations

1868-02 to 05

Impeachment of Johnson —Viewed as impediment to Radical Republicanism. Method used: Tenure of Office Act—In brief, those Senate approved must be Senate removed. 1 vote saved Johnson.


U.S. Grant v. Horatio Seymour -   Waving the bloody shirt (a Republican technique beyond 1868) v. white supremacy


Promontory, Utah - Union Pacific & Central Pacific;


Election violence and Grant sends troops—and federal troops are still stationed in the South.


Grant urges Congress to act to stop a revival of the KKK. Ku Klux Klan Acts work and federal marshals are sent in. 13 volumes of Congressional testimony taken on the KKK.


Department of Justice established; head=Attorney General


U. S. Grant v. Horace Greeley (Democrat & Liberal Republican)

With election violence, Grant sends troops in again in 1874 and 1875.


Issues of the Liberal Republicans – end Reconstruction, end protective tariff (thus liberal, meaning supporting free trade), begin merit system (not the spoils system started in Jackson’s administration)


Tip on the History: If you do not understand the difference between a protective and revenue tariff, the meaning of the word tariff, and the meaning of the word merit system, ask. These are key concepts


General traits of the era:

§  Corruption and abuse of power (many scandals)—not by Grant but his cabinet.

§  But not just at the national level -Boss-ism (New York city government and Boss Tweed)



Panic of 1873 (Depression of 1873) – This and the scandals and the violence in the South reduced Northern interest/votes.



Women’s  Christian Temperance Union – Frances Willard


Tip on the History: What’s the organization for and what is the gender of Frances Willard?



Rutherford B. Hayes (Ohio Gov.) v. Sam Tilden (NY Gov.) – Honest Sam Tilden

              4,0360000                               4,301,000  - Tilden won on the popular vote


Electoral Commission – gives Hayes every disputed elector

Compromise of 1877 – Why do the Democrats accept this victory for Hayes? The federal troops will be out of the South—and what does that mean?


What’s a plantation after emancipation?  Nothing. Beginning right after the end of the war planters and freedmen developed sharecropping and tenant contracts. They will increasingly be used to control the freedmen—and poor whites.


On the other hand, slavery was no longer the law of the land. Further, the freedom and legal rights of freedmen varied with the region in the South. For example, your textbook covers a black city government in place in Wilmington, North Carolina, until 1898 when a white mob destroyed it.[3]


The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments lay the foundation for more rights not just for African Americans, but also for women and other groups.






Copyright C. J. Bibus, Ed.D. 2003-2016


WCJC Department:

History – Dr. Bibus

Contact Information:

281.239.1577 or bibusc@wcjc.edu

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