Despite the territory's strong economic ties to
northern industry and financing, the area had
its share of Confederate sympathizers since many
Nevada settlers originally hailed from the
South. Throughout the conflict, there were
hushed fears that the Knights of the Golden
Circle or other informal branches of the
Confederate Government would attempt to
overthrow Federal institutions. Those with
southern sympathies were hopeful at the war's
outset that their home would sway to the
Confederacy since Albert Sidney Johnston (a
veteran U. S. officer who later resigned to join
the Confederate Army) commanded their military
department. This hope vanished, however,
when General Edwin V. Sumner arrived on scene
and took command of Federal troops in the
Pacific Region. In addition, Captain
Tredwell Moore and a company of men were
dispatched to Virginia City with reports of
Confederate conspiracy within the mining
communities. Although civil unrest was
rampant throughout the conflict, no serious
threat of territorial seizure ever formulated.
During the war, a state branch of the U.
S. Sanitary Commission raised over
$250,000 in funds for the care and well-being of
Federal troops in the field and hospitals. The
majority of Nevada was undeniably Unionist.
During the war, Nevada sent approximately 1,200
men to fight for the Union, perhaps the most
famous of which was the California Regiment
commanded by Colonel P. E. Connor. Based
out of Fort Churchill and comprised of nearly
one hundred men, these cavalrymen served on the
frontier and guarded Federal interests against
Indians and Confederate sympathizers alike.
Similarly, the Nevada Volunteer Cavalry
was credited as having "been of the greatest
importance in aiding to protect the great
overland highway and also the settlements upon
the frontier from Indian incursion and
On numerous occasions during the war, Nevada
unsuccessfully attempted to introduce and ratify
bills of statehood for entrance into the Union.
By 1864, Federal leaders in the territory
yearned to be accepted as a state in order to
take part in the all-important presidential
election of that year. Nevada's
legislators barely succeeded in achieving their
goal. With their state constitution
ratified on October 31, 1864 (just over one week
before the election), leaders were fearful their
work would not reach Washington until after the
election if it were sent by courier or train.
Therefore, the constitution in its
entirety was telegraphed back east - making the
message the lengthiest telegram ever sent.
As a result, Lincoln won nearly sixty
percent of Nevada's vote against Democratic
opponent George B. McClellan.
Nevada's role in the Civil War backed the Union
war effort politically, financially, and helped
give way to an era of westward expansion. Mining
and industry in the American West continued at a
fast pace after 1865. Scores of veterans
from both Union and Confederate sides took part
in the mass westward migration.
Since land often proved insufficient
for farming, many turned to prospecting.
The state's southern border expanded in
1867 thanks to large gold deposits discovered
there. Over the next several decades, a
rollercoaster pattern of gold and silver
discoveries created a boom and bust industry.
After tensions between natives and
settlers exploded once again, the U. S. Military
fought with the Bannock, Shoshone, and Paiute
Indians in the Snake War, 1864-1868. The
conflict claimed nearly 2,000 lives. It
became representative of the following twenty
years of war and unrest on the frontier.