• Photo of cannon at Antietam National Battlefield

    The Civil War

The Changing War

Photo of Soldier looking at destroyed railroad car.

The Civil War began as a purely military effort with limited political objectives. The North was fighting for reunification, and the South for independence. But as the war progressed, the Civil War gradually turned into a social, economic and political revolution with unforeseen consequences.

The Union war effort expanded to include not only reunification, but also the abolition of slavery. To achieve emancipation, the Union had to invade the South, defeat the Confederate armies, and occupy the Southern territory.

Stories from The Changing War

Showing results 6-9 of 9

  • The Civilian Experience in the Civil War

    Painting of civilians under fire during the Siege of Vicksburg

    After being mere spectators at the war's early battles, civilians both near and far from the battlefields became unwilling participants and victims of the war as its toll of blood and treasure grew year after year. In response to the hardships imposed upon their fellow citizens by the war, civilians on both sides mobilized to provide comfort, encouragement, and material, and began to expect that their government should do the same. Read more

  • The Military Experience

    Engraving of soldier warming himself by a fire
 Photo of U.S. Sanitary Commission office.

    The course of the war was the cumulative result of political, economic, and social policies that affected (and were affected by) military operations and battles waged across a front spanning 2,000 miles. The battles and campaigns of 1861-65 ultimately demonstrated that the simple application of massive military force, even with innovations in technologies and tactics, was insufficient to resolve a conflict between two sections mobilized against one another politically, socially, philosophically, economically, and emotionally. Read more

  • Petersburg National Battlefield

    The United States Military Railroad

    Depot at the U.S. Military Railroads, City Point, Va., showing the engine

    How do you make sure an army of 100,000 men encamped in front of Petersburg, Virginia for nine months, gets the food and supplies they need? Ulysses S. Grant turned to the U.S. Military Railroads for the solution. Read more

  • War to the Hilt

    Photo of Union troops at Arlington House

    The Civil War ushered in a new era of warfare in which the effects of war were felt beyond the battlefield, including confiscation of civilians' personal property, holding prisoners for strategic purposes, and scorched earth military policy. Read more