Following the election of President Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860, becoming the first state to do so. Other states soon followed suit and America would never be the same…
Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th president of the United States in 1860. His election was a sectional victory, winning none of the southern states. This was the final straw for many Southerners, as they feared that his presidency would result in the end of their way of life.
On December 20, 1860, South Carolina declared their secession from the United States of America. Within the next six months, ten other southern states would secede from the Union:
On February 4, 1861, the seven states that had seceded by this point convened and created the Confederate States of America under the leadership of Jefferson Davis. Just under two months later, on April 12, 1861, Confederate forces opened fire on Union-occupied Fort Sumter off the South Carolina coast. This was the beginning of the Civil War.
Civil War battles are fought by armies made up of three branches: infantry, cavalry, and artillery. At the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, General William T. Sherman's Union army had nearly 100,000 men. General Joseph E. Johnston had 65,000 in the Confederate Army. Today, American armies are designated by numbers. In the Civil War, armies were known by names. Union armies were usually named for major rivers. The Confederates named their armies for the states or regions in which they campaigned.
Armies are complicated organizations. To control such large numbers of men, armies are divided into levels of command. Starting from the bottom, when a man enlisted in the army, he joined a company of about 100 men, commanded by a captain and two lieutenants. Ten companies from a particular state were combined into a regiment commanded by a colonel. For example, a man might be a member of B Company of the 63rd Georgia Regiment.
Brigades, commanded by a brigadier general, were made up of five regiments. They averaged about 1,500-2,000 soldiers. Three or four brigades composed a division (6,000 to 8,000 soldiers) commanded by a major general. Southern units were known by the names of their Generals and were usually men from the same state. Numbers were used to designate the northern units.
A Corps (pronounced core) was composed of three or four divisions. It usually had artillery attached. A corps was commanded by a major general in the Union Army or a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army. As with the brigades and divisions, Confederate corps were named after their generals and Union corps were given numbers (usually Roman numerals).